From Chamberlain to Churchill
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In January 2022, articles by international commentators appeared in the media about the first steps towards a new union in Europe. The United Kingdom initiated this development following the declaration about the strategic partnership with Ukraine, which concluded in the fall of 2020. One can assume that the government of Boris Johnson took these steps as a logical continuation of his long-term policy that led to the implementation of Brexit.
One of the factors that pushed the UK to leave the EU was the imposition by Germany and France of a policy to encourage Muslim immigration, which is devastating for the future of the countries of the European Union. The countries members of the EU located in Central and Eastern Europe shared the opinion of the British on this policy and actively resisted the pressure of the Germans and the French in this matter.
These countries, liberated from the power of communist regimes due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, are now faced with the arrogant attitude of the leaders of France and Germany to their opinions and interests specific to them.
The conciliatory attitude of Germany and France towards the aggressive neo-imperialist policy of Russia has created additional tension in the countries bordering Russia, which have learned painful lessons from the history of their relations with such a dangerous neighbor.
Sluggish and limited sanctions measures by Western countries, which at the same time tried to maintain normal economic and political relations with Russia, created a sense of impunity for their actions among its leadership. They have a strengthened opinion that the leadership of the Western countries, once again following in the footsteps of Chamberlain’s peacekeeping policy, will look for compromises, step by step, to satisfy Russian demands.
As a result, there was an unprovoked invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine in 2014, the annexation of Crimea, and the capture of parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The reaction of Western countries to these actions of Russia only further strengthened the opinion of its leadership that their assessment of the ability of the EU and US leadership to a possible rebuff turned out to be correct.
Such a policy further encouraged the Russian government to achieve its goals. It began to openly present increasingly brazen ultimatums to the leadership of the United States and NATO, demanding the return to its sphere of influence of the territories and countries that were previously under the control of the Soviet Union. The members of the State Duma made speeches calling to go even further and return under the control of Russia and the territories that belonged to the Russian Empire in the past, including … Alaska!
Confidence in their impunity and strength, on the one hand, great-power and chauvinistic attitude towards the people and leadership of Ukraine, on the other hand, reached its climax with the massive invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Against the backdrop of established international relations, and unlike the leadership of the EU and the US, the UK has once again shown the ability to return to the fundamentals of Winston Churchill’s policy, correctly assess the situation and take the necessary steps in the light of its historical experience. The idea arose, supported by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Polish President Andrzej Duda, to create a tripartite alliance of Great Britain, Poland, and Ukraine.
According to international media reports, the governments of Germany and France continue to flirt with Russia even now, declaring that the process of Ukraine’s admission to the EU and NATO may drag on for years. Against this background, the message of British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the creation of a union of Great Britain, Poland, and Ukraine has far-reaching consequences.
To some extent, we are talking about a return to the policy of the 50s of the XX century. Then, along with the existence of NATO, the Western powers considered the creation of regional defense pacts. Two more parallel initiatives to create a defense alliance of Eastern and Central Europe countries preceded the new tripartite alliance.
On February 15, 1991, in the Hungarian city of Visegrad, a meeting was held between the presidents and the prime minister of the three Central European states – Lech Walesa (Poland), Vaclav Havel (Czechoslovakia), and Jozsef Antal (Hungary). The three leaders established the Visegrad group by signing a joint declaration on the desire of their countries to integrate within the framework of the European community.
Visegrad was chosen as the venue for the 1991 meeting, thus emphasizing the symbolic renewal of the historic Union concluded in this city in 1335 between John I of Bohemia, Charles I of Hungary, and Casimir III of Poland.
The countries of Eastern, Central and Southern Europe more than once served as a wall protecting the countries of Western Europe from the Asian invasion, such as, for example, the invasion of the Mongol troops under the command of Khan Batu into the territory of modern Ukraine in 1237.
The aim of the Mongols was the desire to conquer the territory of Europe and reach the shores of the “Great Sea”. In this case, the Mongol empire would have taken over all the then known world in the Old World, spreading from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1239 the Mongols captured and plundered Pereyaslavl and Chernihiv. In 1240, Kyiv, Galich, and Volodymyr Volynsky fell. Then, with the support of the troops of the Moscow princes who submitted to their dominion, the Mongols attacked Poland, Hungary, Moravia, and Croatia, reaching Trieste on the Adriatic coast, and capturing the territories of Serbia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria. The countries occupied by the Mongols were devastated, about half of their population was destroyed in the cruelest way, and their property was plundered.
However, despite this, the Mongols faced fierce resistance, especially when the countries they attacked overcame internal differences and united their troops in front of a common enemy.
In 1339, the Second Visegrad Congress took place in Visegrad, at which three kings had decided that, in the event of the death of the king of Poland and Little Russia, Casimir III, who had no son, his maternal nephew, the son of Charles I of Hungary, Louis (Lajos), will become his heir.
In 1342, Louis I became king of Hungary. In 1345, the army led by him defeated and threw back the troops of the Golden Horde across the Dniester, contributing to the creation of the Moldavian principality on the liberated territory.
In 1370, Louis I the Great, by common consent, became king of Hungary, Poland, and Croatia, and among his vassals were the rulers of the Czechia, Slovakia, the Principality of Bosnia, Serbia, Wallachia, Moldova, and Bulgaria. Thus, under the auspices of the power of Louis I was a gigantic territory located between the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas.
The Empire of Louis I Map
After the death of Louis I in 1382, strife began in his vast empire, and it gradually fell apart. Nevertheless, the memory of a powerful alliance that ensured the general security of the states united under the rule of Louis I the Great has survived our times. The creation of the Visegrad Four, consisting of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, testifies to this in the best conceivable way.
Proposals to create a union of European states on an equal basis arose, repeatedly, more than once. Thus, in 1464, King Jiri of Bohemia proposed the creation of a Union of European Christian Nations for joint defense against the invasion of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1728, the famous French publicist, Abbé Charles de Saint-Pierre, proposed the creation of a European League of 18 sovereign states, with a common treasury, without borders, and an economic union.
However, civil strife and disagreements had a negative impact on the ability to create and maintain a stable powerful state that could provide all residents living on its territory, regardless of their national, ethnic, and religious self-determination, with the necessary security and a high standard of living.
The influence of the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America showed another, more balanced way of creating a powerful federal state based on the mutual consent of its constituent state entities, populated mainly by immigrants from different European countries.
The emergence of the EU to some extent repeats this path of free choice of independent states of Europe, who have realized the advantages of economic and defense cooperation between them, based on the principles of equality and mutual respect of its members.
In 1993, as a result of the agreement on the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the composition of the Visegrad Group increased from three to four independent members. On May 1, 2004, all countries of the Visegrad Group joined the European Union.
At the same time, despite the successes in the formation of the EU, the existence of the Visegrad Group within its framework is not accidental, and it indicates the need to have its own special, autonomous solution for the national problems of these states.
The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have always been part of a single civilization that shares cultural and intellectual values and common roots in various national and religious traditions, which they seek to preserve and further strengthen.
In 2000, the International Visegrad Foundation was established to support the development of cooperation in the field of culture, scientific exchange, research, education, student exchange, and tourism promotion.
In 2011, at a meeting in Bratislava, the main tasks of multi-year financial planning of joint projects in the field of culture, agriculture, environment, internal security, defense, science, and education were agreed upon.
Members of the Visegrad Group are not limited to coordinating the activities of its member states. The Visegrad Group cooperates with other regional bodies and individual countries in several areas of mutual interest within pan-European integration.
Since 2004, the issue of expanding the Visegrad Group within the European Union has been raised several times. It was proposed to include Austria and Slovenia in it since these countries also oppose the migration policy imposed by Germany and France on the countries of the European Union.
These six countries called for the solution of migration issues at the level of national authorities, and not centrally and practically without any restrictions. The crisis in the migration policy of the European Union was one of the reasons for Brexit – the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
As a result of the fact that in the countries of the European Union the mortality rate significantly exceeds the birth rate, an acute and growing problem of a shortage of able-bodied population to maintain their existing high standard of living has risen. An attempt to solve this problem by encouraging mass immigration from the countries of the Middle East and North Africa has led to the emergence of new, much more serious problems.
Instead of the social, cultural, and civic integration of immigrants into the existing society in these countries, there was an aggressive hostility of large masses of immigrants, especially their younger generation, in relation to the aging Indigenous population.
Over time, the situation worsened even more. The continued growth in the proportion of ethnic and religious immigrant minorities in the people of the EU countries led to an increase in social tension and to the creation of urban enclaves dominated by criminal and extremist Islamist political groups. At the same time, state forces of law and order are afraid to penetrate there, being unable to maintain the rule of law on the territory of these enclaves in various cities and regions of these countries.
This harmful process was facilitated by the naive, politically correct policy of state structures, making the principle of protecting human rights absolute and limitless. Such policy distorted the very concept of the essence of a democratic system of power, opposing it to safeguarding the legitimate rights of the majority of citizens in these countries.
The social policy of artificial encouragement of the birth rate in the EU countries has led to maintaining its elevated level only among immigrants, having practically no effect on the low birth rate among the Indigenous population of these countries. This policy has contributed to an ever-increasing increase in social expenditures in the state budget, with the main burden of financing these expenditures covered by taxes collected from the Indigenous population of these countries.
All these countries are threatened by the resumption of the imperialist policy of Russia, which openly proclaims its goal to restore its control over these countries, as it was during the existence of the Soviet Union.
The conciliatory policy of the EU leadership, conducted for many years at the initiative of Germany and France, has led to the growth of Russia’s aggressive policy. At first, the EU practically did not react to Russia’s brutal suppression of the aspirations for independence of the people of the Republic of Ichkeria, and then resigned itself to the Russian occupation of part of the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
Then the EU allowed Russia to carry out aggression against Georgia and the occupation of part of its territory in 2008 with virtual impunity. Encouraged by such a conciliatory EU policy, in 2014 Russia invaded Ukraine, annexed part of its territory, and established its control over its eastern regions.
On July 22, 2014, in Warsaw, at the initiative of the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, a meeting was held between the leaders of nine states that were once part of the Warsaw Pact Organization or the Soviet Union.
On November 4, 2015, at a meeting in Bucharest, the leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia signed a declaration on military cooperation between them in order to ensure the stability and security of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe within the framework of the actions of member organizations NATO.
Thus, the leaders of nine countries created a structure of international cooperation, called the “Bucharest Nine”, which expanded the scope of the “Visegrad Group” to borders reminiscent of the metes and bounds of the empire of Louis I.
Map of the “Bucharest Nine” countries
The closer European states are to Russia, the more acutely they feel the danger emanating from it to their sovereignty and independence. The lessons of the history of their relations with Russia do not bode well for the Baltic countries, Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, nor for Moldova and Romania, and, in the not-so-distant future, even for Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria.
Therefore, even while remaining part of the economic and military space of the greater European Union, the countries of Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe have their own special nuances in their approach to domestic and foreign policy issues.
Considering the existing energy dependence on Russia and the aggressive imperialist ambitions of the Kremlin, disagreements continue between the countries of Eastern and Central Europe with the countries of Western Europe.
The conciliatory policy of the founding EU countries brought the situation in Europe to its negative culmination with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The Russian leadership openly proclaimed its goal to eliminate the existence of Ukraine as an independent, sovereign state, denying the very right to national self-determination of its inhabitants.
The outbreak of war in Ukraine to some extent exacerbated internal disagreements between Eastern and Western countries, the members of the EU. The warnings of the leaders of the “Bucharest Nine” countries about the growing threat from Russia turned out to be prophetic.
The courageous and steadfast resistance of Ukraine to the troops of the Russian aggressor showed a real alternative to the complete failure of the policies of the EU, NATO, and the USA. Instead of maintaining global peace in Europe, the policies of the Western countries, reminiscent of the days of Neville Chamberlain, only led to an aggressive attempt by Russia to achieve the goals of its neo-imperialist policy.
Based on the development of military and political events in the East of Europe, a real and logical opportunity arose to create a new organizational unit within the framework of the European Union and NATO, with the support of the United States and Great Britain.
It is no coincidence that Poland, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia were the first countries that not only demanded to supply assistance to Ukraine, but also began to implement it in practice. These countries were also joined by Sweden and Finland, who decided to join NATO, considering the seriousness of the danger posed by the slogans of the revival of Russian imperialism declared by members of the State Duma.
Thus, a practical opportunity arose to expand the “Bucharest Nine” to at least thirteen members. If Moldova and Georgia, already affected by Russian aggression, join this organization, then along the entire Russian border, from the Barents Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the southeast, a powerful defensive wall of free Europe will appear, which even the most ardent supporters of a great-power and insatiable Russian Empire will have to reckon with.
The Eastern Wall countries map
With the support of the “Bucharest Nine”, the EU countries, the US and the UK, Romania, and Moldova will be able to unite again, at the same time solving the problem of Transnistria, created by Russia’s imperialist policy. Georgia will be able to settle the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Over time, after the change of the dictatorial regime that exists in Belarus, it would become logical for Belarus to join this union.
Even at the very initial stage, the total economic and defense power of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe would increase their influence on the international arena, not only within the EU and NATO but also in the entire world.
The population of the fifteen countries mentioned above, according to 2020 data, is 169 million people, 18.9% more than the population of the Russian Federation. The total GDP of 15 countries is more than 3 trillion US dollars, 66.8% more than Russia’s GDP, which was equal to 1.8 trillion dollars.
The total defense budget of the fifteen countries amounted to about 60 billion US dollars or about 2% of their total GDP. However, only Ukraine allocated 6% for defense needs, Latvia, and Finland – each 2.12%, Poland – 2.07%, Estonia – 1.92%, and Romania – 1.80% of their GDP.
On the other hand, Moldova allocated 0.35% of GDP for its defense needs, while the share of the defense budget of the remaining eight countries fluctuated around 1.3% of their GDP. If these countries increased the share of their defense budgets to 2% of their GDP, then this would increase them by $10 billion in total.
According to the British International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the armed forces of these fifteen countries, including reserves and paramilitaries, total 3,395,510 soldiers, only 172,490 soldiers less than the number of Russian troops, numbering 3,568,000 soldiers. (See Table #1).
For comparison, the total number of soldiers per 1,000 inhabitants was 76.3 for Israel and 25.1 for Russia, while the average for the fifteen countries considered here was 19.6 soldiers per 1,000 inhabitants. However, there is a significant difference in the value of this coefficient for individual countries, which arises when considering the size of existing military reserves.
Thus, Finland has the highest total strength ratio of all armed forces units, reaching 169.4 soldiers per 1000 inhabitants. In Ukraine, it was equal to 27.6, and the Czech Republic had the lowest – 2 soldiers per 1,000 inhabitants. At the same time, the population of the Czech Republic is almost twice the population of Finland. If the ratio of armed forces personnel per 1000 inhabitants in these countries is equal to the ratio existing in Russia, their total number will be 4,241,471 soldiers, 18.9% more than in Russia.
An analysis of the total number of weapons in the armies of the above 15 countries indicate a significant advantage of the Russian military. Thus, the number of fighters and attack aircraft of the Russian Air Force exceeds fifteen countries by more than three and a half times, helicopters by 2.8 times, MLRS by 2.7 times, self-propelled guns by 2.6 times, and tanks by 2.5 times. Only the number of armored vehicles was close to equality. (See Table #2).
Accordingly, even to close the existing gap in the number of weapons, significant financial investments will be required, primarily for the modernization of the existing ones and the acquisition of modern technical equipment for the Air Force, artillery, and tank units.
The presence of the modern defense industry in Ukraine and other countries of the “Eastern Wall” will allow it to send orders to produce many types of necessary weapons.
Defense is a lever for economic development.
The standardization of armaments following the situation that has already developed in most NATO armies and the specialization of countries in already established production will make it possible to use defense budgets and existing production capacities more efficiently. It will also reduce the time necessary for the rearmament of the Allied armies.
It will increase the level of international investment, both for the expansion of existing and the creation of new enterprises, and a sharp increase in the number of well-paid jobs. The strengthening of the military power of the “Eastern Wall” countries will be accompanied by significant growth in their economy and an increase in the standard of living of their population.
For example, the adoption by the Eastern Wall countries of the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen combat aircraft, which are already in service with the Czech Republic and Hungary, will reduce their cost for all partners. Moreover, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and India also considered acquiring these aircraft.
Since Sweden granted Brazil a license to manufacture these aircraft and offered to do the same under an agreement with India, it is logical that the production of these aircraft or their components could also be proposed to the country’s members of the Eastern Wall, which have the necessary industrial base.
Several of the fifteen countries have a well-established production of 155-mm NATO standard howitzers: Sweden – Archer FH77BW L52, Ukraine – 2S22 Bogdana, Czech Republic – ShKH DITA, Slovakia – SpGH Zuzana, Poland – AHS Krab. Therefore, it would be possible to consider the joint production of an agreed standard gun both for the needs of partner countries and for export.
Israeli Spike multifunctional anti-tank missile systems are in service with NATO member countries, including all “Bucharest Nine” countries and Finland, Australia, South Korea, India, and many other countries in Asia and Latin America.
In the field of armored vehicles, like a standard tank for the troops of partners, it would be worth considering the mass production of the Ukrainian T-84 BM Oplot tank. It would be good to upgrade it by installing a 1500 hp engine on it and the Israeli active defense unit “Trophy,” which is considered the best globally and has proven its effectiveness in real combat operations.
The German Ministry of Defense recently announced its intention to purchase Israeli Hetz-3 anti-missile systems and acquire several “Iron Dome” installations. It would be worth checking the possibility of a centralized purchase of these systems to protect the territory of the Eastern Wall partner countries. Thus, it would help overcome the political difficulties for their purchasing and make it possible to reduce their cost.
Restoration of war-ravaged infrastructure, residential areas, and industry in Ukraine, primarily at the expense of funds confiscated from Russia, will create a favorable atmosphere for participating in these projects of the countries that supported Ukraine in its challenging time. An additional powerful impetus would be made for the development of the economy of Ukraine itself and these countries.
One of the possible international economic projects in which interest arose more than ten years ago is the development of shale deposits in Ukraine. This project is becoming more urgent, as it can help free European countries from the overweighted dependence of their economies on Russian gas supplies, which has become unbearable for their sovereignty.
The creation of a union of “Eastern Wall” countries, whether a confederation or even a federation of sovereign states, based on the example of the US Constitution and common European citizenship for all their inhabitants, will help resolve the old border disputes and ethnic conflicts between countries.
State borders can be replaced by lines of administrative demarcation, considering the experience of the United States of America and the EU. Each of the states’ members of the Union would be maintaining their internal municipal and administrative boundaries to regulate the management of the relevant areas and the adequate provision of state and municipal services to their population. More balanced economic and political relations will be established within the European Commonwealth, in line with the growing international influence of the “Eastern Wall” countries and Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary. It will have the most favorable impact on the level of security in Europe and throughout the world.
As President of Poland Andrzej Duda said, speaking on May 6, 2022, in Warsaw on the Day of the Polish Diaspora:
“For decades, and maybe, with God’s will, for centuries, as, I hope, Vladimir Zelensky prophetically said, there will no longer be a border between our countries – Poland and Ukraine. This border will not exist. So that we live together on this earth, building and rebuilding together our common happiness and common strength, which will allow us to repel any danger or any possible threat “.
These words and wishes are true not only for the countries of the possible Eastern Wall Union but also for the entire European community.
By Yakov Faitelson
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