by Nicola De Felice

A nightmare scenario

Belarus in the midst of military exercise on Ukraine's borders. Tension between Poland and Ukraine over rumors put out by Russians about supposed Warsaw's ambitions on former Polish and now Ukrainian neighboring territories. Romania and Moldova in agitation over Transnistrian aims. Hungary and Slovakia reluctant to share sanctions on Russian oil embargo. Finland and Sweden inclined to join NATO. European Union in diplomatic and energy disarray.

We are in one of the worst scenarios that agitates the whole of Europe the moment peace negotiations do not move forward and only room is given to arms on the ground (and at sea). Once cooperation - even if it was manifested at the time as mere coexistence between the Russian Federation and NATO - breaks down, the continued gradual deterioration of relations may lead to direct confrontation between the parties and create the preconditions for a deeper crisis, global in nature.

The war, then, is pushing on the energy crisis and shortages of food resources such as wheat, which is especially bringing emerging economies such as Sri Lanka, Egypt, Pakistan, and Tunisia to their knees, weighed down in their debts, among other things, because of the U.S. Fed's interest rate hike in an attempt to control galloping inflation.

When guns speak

This is the most delicate moment of the competition, characterized by the clash of wills, in which each of the opponents tries to exert its influence on the other(s).

Economic measures drive the two sides' efforts, backed by continuous forms of overt threat, but unless diplomatic measures are activated, the military component of the two national powers (the Russian on the one hand and the Ukrainian on the other, the latter supported by Western arms and intelligence) is the one that, more than the others, is effective in the deterrent action carried out by Putin and Zelensky against the antagonist, beyond the disproportionality between the objective to be achieved and the cost, social and material, of the military solution itself.

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And so why not revise -as soon as possible and in the interests of this Europe battered by too many world wars- the concept of a buffer state, a nation to be placed between two rival or potentially hostile great powers.

The buffer state

The existence of this state must be thought out and planned to try to avoid open conflict between the major powers. Buffer states, when truly independent, pursue a neutral policy, which distinguishes them from satellite states. The concept of buffer states is part of the balance of power theory, invented by the ancient Romans and already used in European diplomacies in the 17th and 19th centuries.

Then let Europe wake up and revive -if it is capable of doing so- the concept of "Partnership for Peace" used by NATO in the 1990s, a program whose purpose was to build trust between NATO, the European states that did not join the Atlantic Alliance and the former Soviet Union. But, this time, with a burst of autonomy and desire for freedom may it be revised and corrected according to the protection and defense of the vital, strategic and contingent interests of Europe as a whole.

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Senior Fellow of the Centro Studi Machiavelli. Admiral of division (res.), former commander of destroyers and frigates, he has held important diplomatic, financial, technical and strategic assignments for the Defence and Navy Chiefs of Staff, both at home and abroad, at sea and on land, pursuing the application of capabilities aimed at making the Italian defence and security policy effective.