Military security in central Europe is heavily influenced by the geopolitics of major power relations. However, even in a period of increased tension and minimal trust, it is not too soon to begin thinking about how local actors can increase their agency and design ways and means to coexist in the space they must share in perpetuity. Decisions taken by the governments of Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine, collective decisions by NATO and by Belarus and Russia will increase the number of armed forces in central Europe regardless of the outcome of the war in Ukraine.
After 2000, Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine signed bilateral agreements to increase transparency about military exercises and created consultation procedures to address any questions arising from military activities. While recent events suggest that these measures are limited in the degree to which they can shield particularly exposed states from the consequences of a problem they did not create, before abandoning local measures, it would be useful to give serious thought to how they might be strengthened.
This paper by Dr Ian Anthony examines the strengths and weaknesses of smaller-scale discussion formats between local actors in Europe and provides ideas on how to strengthen these formats.
Even in a period of increased tension and minimal trust, it is not too soon to begin thinking about how local actors can increase their agency and design ways and means to coexist in the space they must share in perpetuity.
To strengthen smaller-scale discussion formats, this paper puts forward a few key ideas: a) make military-to-military contacts more frequent and link the military-to-military consultation to parallel meetings between national security advisors, b) within existing bilateral agreements, consider further lowering notification thresholds, expanding geographical scope of coverage and bringing in additional types of security forces, c) explore a tailored agreement on the prevention of dangerous military activities, and d) restore the meetings of national security advisers and expand meetings.
The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.
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