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At the same time, these reassurance measures address only certain more conventional military aspects that the Alliance should be considering, such as the capacity of the Russian military, as reflected in the exercises.They may, however, be less effective at addressing other potential types of threats illustrated by the current crisis, and so it may be worth supplementing such measures with a push to complete security sector reforms in new member states.Where Western capitals see the “open door” policy and the enlargement of organisations such as NATO and the EU contributing to wider European stability, Moscow sees the expansion of these organisations destabilising European security.

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If Secretary General Rasmussen could state in June, therefore, that NATO has for the last 20 years – until the Ukraine crisis – considered Russia as a partner with whom the Alliance could cooperate, this is denied by senior Russian officials and thinkers who point to NATO enlargement and the ballistic missile defence project as activities that are not those of a partner.This different understanding has been amplified by the fact that for much of the last 15 years, the West and Russia have drawn very different conclusions about the causes and consequences of the major episodes of the post Cold War era, such as the Colour revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, the gas crises in 20 and the Russo-Georgia war in 2008.At the same time, these disagreements illustrate two important points.First, it reflects Moscow’s different understanding of the indivisibility of security: Europe is divided into two parts – the wider OSCE space, in which agreements are merely politically binding (and thus open to change or abuse), and the “bloc” spaces of NATO and the EU, in which agreements are legally binding.Indeed, they are being accelerated by the response of both sides to the current crisis, which has emphasised the lack of trust between the West and Russia on one hand –as each accuses the other of both breaking their pledges and providing political and material support for the opposing sides in the conflict in Ukraine itself – while calling on the other to desist from such support and weigh in to resolve the situation. Despite President Poroshenko’s proposed 15 point peace plan, the possibility of further deterioration remains distinct.

In June, senior NATO officials pointed to a renewed build up of Russian armed forces on the Ukrainian border, indicating it was a “regrettable slip backwards”.If a deterioration of the immediate crisis within Ukraine itself cannot be ruled out, with all its potential ramifications of civil war in Europe, the intensification of the wider trend of more systemic dissonance is already evident.Various security aspects of the crisis – such as the infiltration of Crimea, and Russian military exercises and a build up on Ukraine’s border – have unsettled Eastern European members of the Alliance and created a debate in the West about the strength of NATO’s Article Five commitment to defend its members.At the same time, however, the crisis is the crystallisation of a number of wider and longer-term problems that have been increasingly visible for some time, most notably the intensifying sense of strategic dissonance between Russia and the West.Although many have focused on the increasing tensions between the West and Russia since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012 and the subsequent failure of a “reset” in US-Russia politics, in fact the relationship – particularly in terms of European security – has been deteriorating for some time.Buying tickets on is simple and easy: you pick the desired bus route and enter the date in a calendar.