Top NATO commanders now have the ability to contact their Russian counterparts directly, and vice-versa
The article originally appeared at Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten. Translated for RI by Alexander Samarkin
The U.S. has apparently postponed its plans for further escalation with Russia: NATO and Russia have activated a direct communication link of the armed forces for mutual information exchange. The EU is not incorporated in the "hotline" and remains dependent on U.S. information.
After a long silence due to the Ukraine conflict, NATO has a direct connection to the Russian military again. "NATO and the Russian military authorities maintain communication links. Both the Supreme Commander for Europe and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee have permission to contact their Russian colleagues," confirmed a NATO spokesman on Sunday in Brussels.
The defense ministers of the western military alliance have already emphasized in December that regular contact between high-ranking military officials of both sides is reasonable, especially in times like these. They could also be used to avoid possible 'misunderstandings' in the context of military activity.
In January NATO Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove had announced that the contact with Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov would be restored. NATO had generally approved the necessary arrangements earlier this year. Therefore both sides have communication channels that can be used in case of need.
Both the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe as well as the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee would be allowed to contact their Russian counterparts, confirmed the alliance. According to media reports, contact numbers have been submitted to the Russian side last week. The procedure has been classified as "secret". After the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 the Soviet Union and the United States had established a permanent telegraph link between their military. It was commonly known as "Red Phone". The initiative for the direct link to Moscow came from the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Previously Russian president Vladimir Putin made clear that he wants to ease the relationship with the U.S. Despite existing differences --- such as the Ukraine question --- the countries needed to work together. Thus, a certain detente could emerge in the relationship between Russia and the U.S.: The Americans reacted in a surprisingly mild way to Moscow's decision to supply missile defense systems to Iran.
The EU, however, is at the moment in a confrontation with Moscow with its pending case against Gazprom. Brussels accuses the Russian state-owned company of charging excessive prices in Eastern Europe and hindering competition. After the European Commission initiated the antitrust case against Gazprom and threatened to fine it, Russia announced countermeasures.
The energy dispute between Russia and the EU is convenient for the U.S., because Washington wants to use advantages for the domestic fracking industry. Only if Europe breaks away from Russia as its energy supplier can the US fracking industry hope for a new market -- despite enormous production costs.