George Friedman on Warsaw and Budapest

by Marilou Moursund on April 5, 2017

in Foreign Markets,Geopolitical

George Friedman, the founder of Geopolitical Futures, had an interesting piece today on the dynamics between Eastern Europe and Russia.  From the linked article:

As I have mentioned previously, I spent the past couple of weeks in Europe. I completed my trip last week with a visit to Warsaw and Budapest. Both places are concerned with economic issues, resistance to the European Union’s claims on their sovereignty and, most importantly, their long-term national security. What was interesting in my meetings was the subtle shift in how Warsaw and Budapest now view their main threats.

For the Poles, the Russians have long been the major issue. They see the potential for a Russian move against the Baltic states and are deeply concerned about NATO’s military weakness. In their view, should the Russians decide to move decisively, only the Americans would be in a position to bring significant force to bear, and that force would take months to arrive. It is not that they are expecting an attack. But if an attack happens, it will most likely take place in the Baltics, and the Poles will bear the major burden of resistance. The Poles have made substantial efforts in building a military, but they will be unable to hold back the Russians alone. Given the Europeans’ weakness and United States’ distance from the region, they feel isolated.

The Hungarians have taken a different view of the situation. They too distrust the Russians, having also lived through occupation. But they know that the Europeans are weak and the Americans are far away. Therefore, the Hungarian solution is to try to reach an understanding with the Russians. Hungary tries to reassure the Russians that its poses no threat by using the distance that former President Barack Obama’s administration created with Hungary as a guarantee to Russia. The United States under Obama was hostile to the Hungarian government for what it saw as human rights violations and what the Hungarian government saw as national self-determination. In either event, the result was that Hungary, alienated from the U.S. and distrustful of Russia, could show the Russians that Budapest should not be on Moscow’s radar.

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