"NATO's Article 5 offers little protection against Vladimir Putin's Russia," Iulian Fota, Romania's presidential national security adviser, told me on a recent visit to Bucharest. "Article 5 protects Romania and other Eastern European countries against a military invasion. But it does not protect them against subversion," that is, intelligence activities, the running of criminal networks, the buying-up of banks and other strategic assets, and indirect control of media organs to undermine public opinion. Moreover, Article 5 does not protect Eastern Europe against reliance on Russian energy. As Romanian President Traian Basescu told me, Romania is a somewhat energy-rich island surrounded by a Gazprom empire. The president ran his finger over a map showing how Romania's neighbors such as Bulgaria and Hungary were almost completely dependent on Russian natural gas, while Romania -- because of its own hydrocarbon reserves -- still has a significant measure of independence. In the 21st century, the president explained, Gazprom is more dangerous than the Russian army. The national security adviser then added: "Putin is not an apparatchik; he is a former intelligence officer," implying that Putin will act subtly. Putin's Russia will not fight conventionally for territory in the former satellite states, but unconventionally for hearts and minds, Fota went on. "Putin knows that the flaw of the Soviet Union was that it did not have soft power."
More from CNAS
PodcastVladimir Putin and the Future of Russian Politics, with Michael McFaul and Vladimir Kara-Murza
Ambassador (ret.) Michael McFaul and Vladimir Kara-Murza join Andrea-Kendall Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss recent anti-democratic developments in Russian politics and U.S...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Michael A. McFaul & Vladimir Kara-Murza
PodcastDefense Priorities in a New Administration, with Michèle Flournoy
Michèle Flournoy joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss how a Biden administration can work with NATO to confront transnational threats. Flournoy has been a l...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Michèle Flournoy
PodcastThe Russia-China Defense Relationship, with Mike Kofman and Alexander Gabuev
Mike Kofman and Alexander Gabuev join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to explain the Russia-China defense relationship on the latest episode of Brussels Sprouts. Kofman...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Mike Kofman & Alexander Gabuev
PodcastThe U.S. Withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, with Steven Pifer and Anna Wieslander
Steven Pifer and Anna Wieslander join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on the latest episode of Brussels Sprouts to discuss the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Open S...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Anna Wieslander