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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Mundo arrow Political Situation in the World: January 2015

Political Situation in the World: January 2015 PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jan-30-15 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. At the start of 2015, Europe is a region of strategic conflict, where Russia plays a major role. At the beginning of January, Putin presented the new strategic doctrine of his country, including a review of the defense policy: NATO is described therein as a "primary threat", thus formally going back to the situation of the Cold War, when such alliance -composed of the U.S. and European countries - was its main enemy. He argues that "yesterday's foes have returned". To address this threat, just as a series of actions in the military field are determined for strengthening the Armed Forces and making them more effective, a series of actions in foreign policy are proposed. The first is to deepen cooperation with the Shanghai Group, which Russia makes up along with China and four of the five countries of Central Asia. This means moving forward in an alliance with the Asian power, which also sees the US as a threat to its leadership in Asia. He also intends to further strengthen and expand the "Eurasian Union", which became in effect on January 1 this year. It is a common market that seeks to rebuild the USSR space, having already obtained the signing of 4 of the 15 countries that were part of it: Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia, as well as Russia. It also promotes greater cooperation with the BRICS, the group of emerging powers that it integrates together with China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Russia arises thus as the great "Euro-Asian" power - that indeed is as it spans geographically from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as is the case with the US as well.

2. This happens when the decline in the price of oil leads Russia to an economic crisis, which Putin perceived as a threat to his governance, as he explained. The Russian President has publicly said that the US in partnership with Saudi Arabia, has decided to lower the price of oil to affect its adversaries, beginning with Russia. At the beginning of the year stocks fall due to capital flights and growing inflation. The Finance Minister has said that by 2015 the deficit will reach 3% of GDP and that it can fall 4%. Putin appears to be very clear that the fall in the price of oil which took place a quarter of a century ago precipitated the dissolution of the USSR. Back then, Gorbachev, beset by the economic crisis, could not control an orderly reform and Russia - in Putin's view- hit a period of "humiliation" that reached a peak under Yeltsin's tenure. Based on the background and his personality, Putin wants to avoid the fate of Gorbachev. He considers that the drop in the oil price and the trade sanctions imposed by the West entail a deliberate plan to destabilize him and remove him from power; in response, he redoubles the bet. This means putting the military matter on the table, which is the only area in which Russia remains a world power.

3. But the Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, which is another strategic threat to Europe, should generate a common interest with Russia. In the second week of January, a member of the Islamic State (ISIS) aged 12 killed two Russian alleged agents in an action spread by social media. They were accused of spying the volunteers coming from Russia and from the former Soviet republics, who like thousands of Europeans are fighting this terrorist organization. ISIS publicly killed Americans, British and French citizens before the two Russians and has just murdered a Japanese citizen. In view of cartoon journal Charlie Hebdo issue after the attack, protests were launched repudiating the caricatures of Mohammed in the majority of the 56 Muslim countries of the world. They were also carried out in Chechnya, the "Republic" of the Russian Federation with a large Muslim majority, where a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist movement has developed. For Russia, the cooperation with the West in the fight against this threat, as well as the joint efforts for the exploitation of the Arctic resources  with the US, have not be stopped by the conflict that has resulted from the occupation of Ukraine almost a year ago. But the fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militias continues these days, in the framework of a civil war that, according to the UN, has already claimed 5,000 lives. At the same time, Putin was not invited to commemorate this month in Poland the 70 anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Russian troops, as opposed to Merkel, who was invited, in a clear sign of tension between Russia and Europe.

4. Islamic terrorism and Russia are two strategic threats to Europe, which also faces other political imbalance risks in 2015 with strategic impact. The victory of the left in Greece raises the possibility that a unilateral debt relief may cause the first exit of a country from the European single currency. While it would not have the effects that it would have had four years ago, it can generate a "cascade effect" in other countries. Political forces in the style of Siryza -the Greek left- are growing in Spain and Portugal, two of the countries which, together with Greece, have been most affected by the financial and economic crisis on the continent. The anti-Europe right is also growing in major countries such as France, where Marie Le Pen remains first in the polls. Parties of a similar trait also grow in other countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands. "Islamophobia" emerges as an ideological movement in Germany and this helps the anti-Europe nationalist parties. The rejection to immigration makes nationalist parties like the UKIP grow in Britain. The separatist movements which saw their aspirations limited by the failure of separatism in the referendum in Scotland have not disappeared and add another destabilizing factor to a Europe complicated on the economic, social, political and strategic fronts.

5. To conclude:

a) In early 2015, Russia considers Europe as a strategic conflict zone perceived as a threat, and formally defines NATO as its main enemy, projecting itself as a "Eurasian power".

b) Putin considers the oil price decline and the economic sanctions of the West as a deliberate plan that threatens his governance and so redoubles the bet seizing the role of Russia as a military power.

c) While Islamic terrorism is a threat to the EU and Russia alike, it fails to cool off confrontation, as shown by the exclusion of Putin in the commemoration of the anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation.

d) This happens when Europe is faced with destabilizing political factors such as the victory of the left in Greece, the mounting "Islamophobia", nationalism and separatisms.

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