i. The interest in a “new architecture” of security implies the recognition that there was also an “old architecture” which is no longer available and usable.

ii.  This remark imposes two questions, namely: What did the old architecture look like? Why did this ancient architecture disappear or collapse? Answering these questions will allow us to imagine the future architecture.

iii. Speaking about the “old security architecture” in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, we note, on the one hand, that it appeared at the same time with the establishment of the unipolar world order, immediately after the end of the Cold War, which means that they are doomed to disappear together, and on the other hand, that it had two major characteristics, namely geopolitical variability or, in other words, pluralism of vision, and a significant degree of flexibility and adaptability.

iv. Thus, the study of the “old architecture” allows us to note that some of the principles and visions laid at its base were common to all the main actors involved, namely the US / NATO, the EU and Russia, these coexisting with others, specific only to some of those protagonists, which were divergent if not in conflict.

v. Over time, the divergences deepened and sometimes even replaced the initial convergences. The Ukrainian problem and NATO enlargement are two telling examples of this. The principled approach has changed over time, moving from a difficult consensus to an absurd conflict. At the same time, from the very beginning, that approach knew, especially within the camp of the collective West, mental reservations and nuances that induced tensions responsible, in the end, for the collapse of the entire security architecture in the region in question.

vi. Not only the contradictions between West and East, but also the internal contradictions of the West (between the US and the EU or between EU members) have made the old security architecture obsolete and require the search for a new one. Finding it involves resolving these contradictions.

vii. Also, the definition of a new regional security architecture, which will only be able to take place in the context of building a new global order (no doubt polycentric), will have to close all the problems left unresolved at the end (in many aspects, romantic and imprudent) of the Cold war, due, among other causes, to the lack of a Peace Conference that would have established the management modalities of that war legacy.


1. The generally accepted pillars of the security architecture in Eastern Europe and the wider Middle East after the end of the Cold War and the demise of the bipolar world system were the following:

 a) Preservation of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, its security and stability being guaranteed by the international community (see the Budapest Memorandum) under two imperative conditions: i. explicit – denuclearization; ii. implicit – neutrality / “Finlandization”; and two optional perspectives – i. federalization; ii. Europeanization (integration into the EU either as an associate or as a full member).

b) The geopolitical principle in mind had been fixed by Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzeziński, and it established the balance of power in Eastern and South-eastern Europe, in the Black Sea basin and at the mouths of the Danube. According to him, “Russia without Ukraine was a great regional power that could be negotiated with, while Russia together with Ukraine formed an empire of global relevance that would have rivalled the (“necessary”, apud Marilene Albright) American empire.”

c) Security – both collective and cooperative – within the extended Europe from San Francisco to Vladivostok continued to be defended within the CSCE, which was institutionalized by transforming from a Conference into an Organization and equipped with a Parliamentary Assembly, its fields of competence being conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation, and the guarantee of security consisting in development through cooperation between member states. Under the auspices of the OSCE, the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe was completed (unfortunately, without being ratified).

d) In the spirit of the principles that governed the OSCE, sub-regional economic and strategic cooperation formulas were created in Central Europe, South-Eastern Europe and Transcaucasia, consensually supported by the USA, the EU and Russia, without being institutionally linked to it. None of these are currently functioning. OSCE itself is clinically moribund, following a quasi-total institutional deadlock.

e) According to the “Baladur Doctrine”, well accepted and supported by the US, security, peace, and stability in Europe depended on the recognition of borders between states, which could only be changed by political agreements, and the granting of rights to national minorities. Under the impetus of this doctrine, a series of treaties of cooperation and good neighbourliness were concluded between the states of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, also called basic political treaties. The American administration insisted very much in the conclusion of this treaties (especially those between Romania and Ukraine, and Polonia and Ukraine, respectively).

f) The reason for the inadequate treatments given to national minorities (ethno-cultural communities) within European states, states that were defined as civic and multicultural, was invoked for the recognition of an often fanciful and forced right to self-determination. Germany, in particular, wanted the shrinking by fragmentation of the Central and Eastern Europe states, located between the old external border of the European Communities / NATO and the old external border of the USSR. This is how Yugoslavia disappeared, in the fire of some fratricidal wars in the Western Balkans, but also Czechoslovakia. This fragmentation, which, if needed, would also have allowed a geopolitical partition between the EU and Russia with the drawing of demarcation lines between their spheres of interest and influence in Mittel Europe, was seen as an asset for European security. US did not object. On the contrary.

g) After it was initially agreed that NATO expansion would not go beyond the eastern border of a unified „European Germany”, it was admitted that it could only cover the former member states of the Warsaw Pact, including the Baltic states and excluding all other former Soviet republics. Finland and Sweden remained neutral. In the 1990s, the theory was advanced that raising the level of security of Russia’s neighbors, former Soviet satellites, will not be directed against it, but on the contrary, will strengthen its own security. Russia has warned that any crossing of these red lines will mean war. And so it was in 2008 in Georgia and in 2014 / 2022 in Ukraine. In general, the EU discouraged such expansions, as they were imposed mainly by the US.

h) In the 1990s, the security architecture in Eastern Europe was completed by launching the Partnership for Peace, as well as the two institutionalized cooperation agreements between NATO and Russia, respectively Ukraine, to which was added the inclusion of Russia in the G7, which became the G7+ 1 (but never G8).

2. The EU strategy after the end of the Cold War, with special reference to the Eastern and Central European security architecture, was based on the following principles: 

a) The reunification of Europe and the reconciliation of European history with European geography, within a federation of national sovereign states, called European Union, ruled by a transnational democracy.

b) Replacing the founding principle of NATO – “America in, Russia out, Germany down” – by a re-founding principle of Greater Europe, from Lisbon to Vladivostok – “America out, Russia in, Germany up”. The preservation of the transatlantic strategic link was accepted, but at the same time with the adoption of an alternate European strategic autonomy.

c) The renewal of the old Ostpolitik launched by Willy Brandt, peaceful coexistence being elevated to the level of a strategic partnership with post-Soviet Russia.

d) “Europeanization of Ukraine” (“a state too big for such a small Europe / EU”, from the point of view of the main European powers, and first Germany) had to be achieved through political association, economic integration, legislative harmonization and institutional interoperability with the EU, the decision regarding the granting of full membership status to be taken later. This process was to be part of and facilitated by the building of a complex and deep partnership of the EU with Russia – the “partnership for development”, the latter providing the former with low-cost energy security and the former providing the latter with high-performance technology and the financial credits needed to get rid of the status of an oil-dependent economy (dependent on hydrocarbon exports).

e) In the Black Sea region (extended to the Caspian Sea and the Aegean Sea), a soft security system formally initiated by Russia and Turkey, materialized in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, to which some of the western protagonists of the EU associated themselves.

f) The security of the Black Sea continued to be based on the Montreaux Convention and on the principle that this sea should belong to the riparians, with the perspective that the enlargement of the EU by admitting Romania and Bulgaria will make the EU a riparian power as well.

g) “Democratic security” was to be achieved by admitting all member states of the Soviet bloc and all former Soviet republics to the Council of Europe – the European guardian of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

3. The US strategy after the end of the Cold War, with special reference to the Eastern and Central European security architecture, was based on the following principles: 

a) The EU vision regarding European integration (the Europeanization of Ukraine) came into conflict with the US position, Washington being worried about the possibility of a Euro / German-Russian entente, which would exclude America from Europe, in favor of Russia, resuming the strategy of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. That is why the USA favored the creation of an intermarium from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, which in the 1990s was achieved by establishing the “Romania-Ukraine-Poland Trilateral” (to which Moldova was tried to join), extended to the south by two trilaterals “back to back ” namely Romania-Bulgaria-Greece and Romania-Bulgaria-Turkey, while in the 2010s they will try to achieve it through the “Three Seas Initiative” (Baltic, Black and Adriatic). These formulas aimed at the creation of a pro-American European bloc (“New Europe“) that would prevent the formation of the Russo-German alliance, respectively between post-Soviet Russia and German Europe (“Old Europe“) which had been reached through the retreat of the European Germany towards the geopolitical idea of ​​”the friendly Reich”.

b) If the system of trilaterals and local partnerships founded in the 1990s (most of them being proposed by Romania) represented the fruit of the initiatives and conception of the states in the region (in some cases supported by the USA and in most cases not approved by Germany), the „Initiative of the three seas” was the product of American policy, promoted through local intermediaries (Poland and Croatia), to the common dissatisfaction of Moscow and Berlin.

c) Being already the strategic protector of Western Europe, expanded as the EU and integrated into NATO, in terms of military (nuclear) security, the USA wanted to remove this Europe from dependence on Russia in terms of energy security, by the same move increasing the energy dependence of Europe to the American supply. That is why, among others, it tried to involve the EU in the military actions aimed at establishing American control over the oil and gas production states of the extended Middle East, and at the same time to block all cooperation projects between EU member states (especially Germany) and Russia in the field of hydrocarbon trading (e.g. the North Stream 1 and 2 projects, ultimately sabotaged directly in the shadow of the war in Ukraine).

d) In the southern flank of NATO, Turkey had to remain a reliable ally with an essential strategic role, strengthened by bringing the central and eastern European states into the alliance. At the same time, the USA and the UK (before Brexit) insisted, against European (especially French) reluctance, that Turkey become a member of the EU, which would have changed the cultural identity, but especially the geostrategic identity of the union. These objectives were missed in the context of the neo-Ottoman orientation of President Erdogan, respectively of Turkey’s aspirations for strategic autonomy, against the background of the transition from the unipolar to the multipolar world order. e)

e) The US wanted to open the Black Sea for an increased presence of the American fleet, but this too could not be achieved due to the opposition to the amendment of the Montreaux Convention regarding the regime of the straits. Neither Turkey nor Russia, the main beneficiaries of the Convention, agreed to its modification.

f) Simultaneously with the loss of Turkey, the US / NATO moved towards the Arctic Ocean with its new strategic shipping routes (the use of which is also favored by global warming), integrating Sweden and Finland, and thus forcing a change in the strategic situation in Eastern Europe, on the alignment between Cape North and Gallipoli peninsula.

g) In the Balkans, a traditional area of ​​Russian strategic interest, the USA, together with its European allies but for different reasons, intervened to make its way to the Black Sea and provide reasons for surveillance of the states in the area, supporting the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the Albanianization of the region.

h) In the Middle East, the USA, remaining for a relatively short period of time after the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the bipolar world order, the only global superpower, pursued, appealing to the doctrine of “preventive strike” as well as that of the “obligation to protect” connected with the “right to intervene“, the bringing to office (not to power) of pro-American regimes, which it decreed as democratic and liberal, although they were, as a rule, undemocratic and authoritarian, reinforced by and dependent on the American military presence. i)    More recently, the strategy of the “Abrahamic agreements” was added, aimed at placing the economic interests of the Arab states, which are dependent on technology and military security on the US, above the Palestinian issue, and on such a basis led to the normalization of relations between these and Israel. The Arab-Israeli entente thus created was to constitute an American vanguard force to neutralize rival regional powers (such as Iran) that contested America’s right to direct the destinies of the Middle East and establish the rules of peace there, namely the Middle Eastern order. In this context, Israel remained an American alter ego in the region, umbilically linked to Washington.

4. Post-Soviet Russia’s reaction to the security architecture models promoted by the US and the EU was to accommodate the vision of the collective West with a series of warnings, reservations (“red lines”) and guarantees. 

a) Russia accepted (albeit unenthusiastically) the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and American implantation in the Western Balkans and Transcaucasia, in exchange for drawing clear lines of demarcation in the Caucasus, with the guarantee of its sovereign rights over the North Caucasus, including through the control of some Transcaucasian bridgeheads, namely South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

b) Similar guarantees were obtained by initiating and perpetuating the crises in Transnistria (with reference to Ukraine) and Nagorno-Karabakh (with reference to Transcaucasia).

c) The frozen crises in the former Soviet space represented parts of a single coherent crisis concerning Russia’s post-Soviet status within the world order defined as the pax Americana, and they provided Moscow with arguments for the right to intervene in what it called its „near neighborhood”.

d) Regarding the expansion of NATO in the former Soviet republics and primarily about the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and Belarus, Russia has drawn precise “red lines”. As soon as these lines were breached the entire regional security architecture would collapse.


a) The East European security architecture that emerged spontaneously after the end of the Cold War collapsed in the context of the crisis in which the global order as a whole finds itself.

b) Unipolarism proved to be an unstable type of order, which, in terms of internal politics, led to the slippage of Euro-Atlantic democracies towards oligarchy, and in terms of foreign politics, it multiplied tensions, including through the attempt of the main global actors to export their internal crises, replacing the concern for the search for peace, i.e. the world order, with that for the spread of wars, i.e. the world disorder, and that for the eventual winning of wars (increasingly difficult to obtain by some decadent superpowers) with that for prolonging them indefinitely. In this new context, which knows neither security nor architecture, winning the war no longer means winning the peace, and the old international institutions with the old international law, used in the past to keep the war cool in the conditions of the balance between the global superpowers, are no longer for any use. They must be reformed, and the global order must be reset.

c) The security architecture along the demarcation line between the collective West (the Euro-Atlantic West) and the collective East (the Euro-Asian East), as well as between the collective oligarchic, warlike, narcissistic and exclusivist North, which triggered the global revolution of neo-Marxist progressivism, and the collective aristocratic, legitimist, pluralist, pacifist and integrationist South, which promotes the idea of ​​a global order of polycentric symmetry or of polycentric equilibrium, has collapsed. In its place appeared a fault not only geopolitical and geoeconomic, but a civilizational one. A front line is now passing there, on which there is a risk of a defeat not only for the political powers that carry Western civilization, but even for this civilization itself, that is for its disappearance. A new regional architecture can only be built in the context of resetting the entire global order.

d) The security architecture in Eastern and South-eastern Europe created under the conditions of the unipolarism installed after the end of the Cold War did not collapse because of Russia’s opposition, dissatisfied with the post-Soviet status reserved for it, but because of the differences in strategic options between America (USA) and Europe (EU) that collided. It was not the war between the USA and Russia that determined the collapse of the security architecture at the border between the West and the East, but the internal struggles of the collective West, respectively between the USA and the EU. Russia has only dealt the last blow to an already systemically fractured architecture.

e) A local crisis, like the one in Ukraine, turned into a global economic crisis, which first hit the EU, and then all the states that did not want to enter the US war with Russia, fought on the Ukrainian territory. This is because economic warfare is not regulated in international law. f) Likewise, the crisis in Gaza, at first sight still a local crisis, causing the reaction of the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, disturbed world trade.

g) Then, the global economic crisis determined geopolitical crises able to change the geostrategic configuration of a world where security is indivisible and where independence has objectively given place to interdependence. This change must also be regulated in international law.

h) The current international disorder is also the result of the proliferation of economic wars in the form of the imposition of economic sanctions through the unilateral decision of some states, outside any rules of international law, respectively outside the control of the international community. These wars are often waged not against the enemy state, but against its population, with the goal that the difficulties of everyday life push it to riots that would cause the overthrow of the domestic political regime. More serious is the fact that the economic sanctions are also extended to third countries, as well as their citizens or private economic agents, who do not want to enter the economic war on the side of those who imposed the sanctions. An order parallel to the international order is thus created. Even when this order acquires authority, by using force, it has no legitimacy. It enshrines the right of the might in the place of the might of right.

i) A European, but also a Middle Eastern problem is that, while most Western and Central European states are organized as civic and multicultural states based on the principle of nationality (the principle of ethno-cultural majority and inter-ethnic consensus), many of the Eastern European states are the result of geopolitical projects carried out outside the national consensus. This is the case of Ukraine which, now, because of the Russian-American war fought on its territory, as well as the strengthening of the Ukrainian national consciousness determined by it, is obliged to de-Sovietization, including from a territorial point of view. Losing the current war, or at least not being able to win this war, it must give back what it won in the previous war (World War II) solely based on the “winner takes all” rule.

j) The disorder on the alignment that concerns us is not the expression of a local or regional conflict, but forms the content of a global war waged not between democracies and tyrannies, but between Western / Northern oligarchies and Eastern / Southern aristocracies, between the neo-Marxist unipolar globalism and the multipolar sovereigntist globalization, between the rear-guard of the decadent American-centric unipolar order, supported by the collective Euro-Atlantic West, and the vanguard of the emerging multipolar Euro-Asian order, propelled by the post-colonial and post-imperial powers of the plural South.

III. THE SECURITY ARCHITECTURE TO WIN Some ideas regarding a new Eastern European security architecture might be the following: 

a) The principles that should govern the world order in the 21st century would be at least the following five:

1. multicentrism (giving up the unipolarism);

2. the symmetry of the powers organized around the main coagulation centers and their dynamic balance;

3. de-ideologization of international relations (giving up the principle of uniqueness and universality of a certain value system – namely the Euro-Atlantic one);

4. indivisibility of security;

5. ensuring peace through economic, social and territorial cohesion, as a result of global development achieved by promoting the strategy of common projects based on solidarity of interests.

b) The return to a sustainable peace requires that all ethno-cultural communities living on their historical territories, but within the borders of states created on geopolitical criteria, without having been asked for a prior agreement in this regard, to be recognized the right to establish (by referendum) their political affiliation / identity, respectively the nature of their legal relations with the states they are currently part of and with their states of origin. The object of this right is self-determination – whether international or domestic.

c) Since war through economic sanctions is inhumane, causing mass suffering and development imbalances at the global level, with the potential to give rise to a chain of wars over long periods of time, it should, as a rule, be prohibited as a crime against humanity. Recourse to it could be exceptional and should receive a legal regime in international law like that of weapons of mass destruction. Any economic sanctions would have to be endorsed by the UN Security Council, with the approval of the UN General Assembly, or, in certain cases, by the deliberative forums of regional organizations such as the OSCE.

d) International law needs to be reformed based on the mentioned general principles. In this sense, states can enjoy the freedom to establish their alliances with the observance of several conditions, namely: a) states located on the external border of military alliances cannot host on their territory neither weapons of mass destruction nor permanent military bases of other states; b) conventional and non-conventional tactical weapons located on the territory of the military alliances, as well as that of the states in their vicinity, must maintain a mutual distance outside their range of action or in such a way as to respect the reaction capacity in defense of each; c) strategic non-conventional armaments are to be limited and subject to balancing rules, both in terms of research, production, storage and usage; d) the transparency of the military policies must be ensured both through early information and through the right of oversight. New international treaties need to be concluded to regulate all these conditions. They must be open to the widest possible participation.

e) International law should also include the prohibition of the use of a state’s territory by a third state to attack another third state. It should also be defined as belligerence, with all the consequences that flow from it, the conduct of wars through intermediaries / proxies. This would also include the provision of arms, ammunition, technical assistance, and military intelligence to a state at war with another state, whether free of charge or against payment. The transfer (including sale) of arms to states at war must be prohibited. Whoever wants to fight in the war should do so directly, in his name and on his own account.

f) The “right to intervene” associated with the “obligation to protect” must be regulated by consensus at the international level so that it is clear:

1. which are the cases in which intervention or protection is justified from a humanitarian or a collective security point of view;

2. who verifies the fulfillment of the conditions for the intervention (other than the one who proposes it);

3. who approves the intervention and sets its limits (other than the one who carries it out);

4. who provides the post-intervention rehabilitation;

5. who is responsible for the abusive or negligent intervention and who establishes the liability for such abuses, while ensuring the application of sanctions or the obligation to make reparations. The UN, OSCE or a similar international forum must be given all necessary powers in this regard.

g) The current Ukrainian crisis can only be resolved under the conditions in which a Peace Conference organized with the participation of at least Ukraine, its neighbors, and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, adopts the principles and rules we referred to previously. This Conference must provide security guarantees to both Ukraine and its neighbors. Ukraine must receive guarantees but deliver guarantees too. Their balance would be subject of detailed negotiations.

h) These negotiations could lay the foundations for a global defensive Pact made through an agreement on communication, consultation, coordination, and cooperation between regional political-defensive alliances – NATO, SCO, AUKUS, etc.

i) The powers that believed that through Ukraine they would succeed in bringing Russia to the situation of unconditional surrender, as happened with Germany in the Second World War, after the accumulated experience, should replace the financial and military aid dedicated to the armed confrontation, with political and diplomatic aid that would, on the one hand, provide Russia with the appropriate post-Soviet status in the post-American world order, and on the other hand, ensure the survival of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state. j) Similarly, without asking Israel to make peace with Hamas, it must be asked to:

1. immediately present a political solution (two states, confederation, federation, unitary civic and multicultural state, etc.) to solve the Palestinian problem, including, as necessary, the redefinition of its cultural and strategic identity;

2. to assume the role of a regional actor, along with other regional actors, cutting the umbilical cord that connects it to the US;

3. to position himself in a way that makes international law applicable in his case as well, without jeopardizing his security (it is desirable to abandon Israeli exceptionalism, which is no longer justified after the consolidation of its political, economic, military, and demographic power).

k) The reform of the UN, OSCE and international financing institutions (IMF, WB, etc.) is also required both to adapt them to the new international realities and to prevent the fragmentation of the world into two parts each developing an order incompatible with the other one and therefore incapable of peaceful coexistence.

l) Also, the revitalization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization is required, immediately after the conclusion of the international agreement on Ukraine and its future (restoration of peace in Ukraine, respectively in the north of the Black Sea) and in parallel with the establishment of a “Commonwealth of the Transcaucasian States“, which, with the combined support of the two neighbouring powers, Turkey and Russia, should include the three states of the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan).

m) A new regional security architecture also requires the convening of an International Conference on the reconsideration and updating of the Montreaux Convention. In this context, the relevance of the riparian states and their exclusive rights to manage Pontic geopolitics should be strengthened.

n) In this context, the international community will have to find a solution for the normalization of the situation in the Western Balkans, regarding the Kosovo problem, but also the European perspectives of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

o) If these principles and formulas are applied to the regional geography, we will be able to have, at least in its essential elements, the image of the security architecture to be realized in the space between the North Cape and the Gulf of Aden or between the Baltic Sea and the Persian Gulf, passing through the Black Sea and South Caucasus.


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About the author:

Prof. Dr. Adrian Severin

Prof. Dr. Adrian SEVERIN is Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996-1997) of Romania; Former President of the Parliament Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

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