Deveselu – a Pyrrhic victory for the US?
Some Romanian foreign policy commentators said that the recent commissioning of the American radar in Deveselu on the 12th of May is a historic moment in which the US "put Romania on the map"; at a glance, it is so. News agencies around the world, from Europe to Asia through the Middle East, didn’t ignore the event. One detail seemed to overshadow the ceremony at Deveselu: one of the US officials who was present confused Bucharest and Budapest in his speech. This seemingly trivial detail has, in our view, special significance. This fact shows the real state of the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe (and more generally across Europe): it is about the domination exercised over this geopolitical space by an alien power (US).
But if the more powerful states in Western Europe sometimes have the ability to go beyond US interests in their relationship with Russia, things are more complicated for the smaller states in Eastern Europe.
Romania's case is typical. After a period of relative equilibrium after Romania's entry into NATO (2004), the violent regime change in Kiev in 2014, heavily supported by the West, made anti-Russian propaganda become virulent. Suddenly, Russia was seen as the main threat to Europe, especially for the small states in its western neighborhood. The increasing US interest in Eastern Europe became evident. On this occasion, a new apparently logical theory was activated: it is in the best interests of the small states (including Romania) that Russia is downgraded from a geopolitical point of view. Given the history of Romanian-Russian relations with reference to the Bessarabia province, this theory was quickly embraced by audiences who were more or less informed. Moreover, recalling the history of Russian-Romanian conflicts or disagreements became an emblem of the past few years.
The shield at Deveselu is already active. Romanian-Russian relations are, from a geopolitical and symbolic perspective, reaching a critical point. And yet...
As anti-Russian propaganda evolved, a part of public opinion in Romania was beginning to see the trap. Even if the Romanian political class officially adopted a pro-Atlantist discourse, the politicians began to realize that the anti-Russian attitude, triggered from abroad, is not profitable.
Some official or semi-official positions in Moscow show that things can move forward in a positive direction from this perspective. The latest statement by the Russian Ambassador to Bucharest opens an optimistic outlook on the future of Romanian-Russian relations : "If there is a national interest for Romania, Russia is ready to support it," he said . Even the activation of the missile shield at Deveseluv highlights some shortcomings in the pro-Atlantic mechanism in Romania: President Klaus Johannis did not attend the event, as well as Senate president Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu. The media supporting the pro-atlantist attitude reacted immediately. Even this demonstrates that Romania has more than one geopolitical level. The Atlantist level, at first sight, is built on a relatively weak foundation. The future will show whether US efforts to mobilize Eastern Europe in a new policy of containment against Russia will be successful or not. Deveselu might be a Pyrrhic victory for the US…