Ahmed Haidar is a researcher in international and strategic relations.
Safeguards play an important role in international relations, and they mean the obligation of a state to perform what is required of other international rights. Safeguards in the international sphere are the condition that can be relied upon if one of the parties breaches its international obligations. Therefore, international safeguards represent a protective umbrella for the illegal or non-aggressive derogation of international obligations.
The international system is currently witnessing two of the most complex files, the Ukrainian crisis, and the Iranian nuclear crisis, and in both cases, international safeguardswere requested from Washington. The Ukrainian crisis is caused by the expansion of NATO by including Ukraine in the alliance and the deployment of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, which prompted Russia to object to these steps because they are considered harmful to the Russian vital space and pose a security threat to Russia in the foreseeable future.
At the same time that the Biden administration is negotiating with Iran through the mediation of the 4+1 group to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the administration of US President Donald Trump withdrew unilaterally on May 8, 2018. Because the agreement did not fit American conditions and that it was a “disastrous agreement” that did not prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb, which prompted the Islamic Republic of Iran to request international legal guarantees that obligate the current US administration and subsequent administrations to abide by the results of the current negotiations and not withdraw from them unilaterally.
Therefore, the United States of America, as the only superpower in the international system, is facing a political-legal battle by emerging countries in the regional and international system, namely, Iran and Russia, in which they demand to limit unilateral actions by the United States and NATO, by ensuring its commitment not to endanger the interests of other countries, and not to violate international agreements.
What is the rationale for Russia’s fears of the eastward expansion of NATO? What are the guarantees that Iran demands in the Vienna negotiations? Then can Washington really provide such guarantees? What are the effects of these guarantees on the position of the United States in the international system?
First: Russia’s security guarantee system to address the Ukrainian crisis
Ukraine is an important geostrategic hub for both Russia and the United States of America, and for the other side, Ukraine represents “the soft side of Russia and the heart of its military defense,” as the US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski describes it. As for Russia, the presence of Ukraine as an independent state that is not affiliated with any Western political organization, whether in economic terms (the European Union) or in terms of security (NATO), helps change its position from a restricted international player to an important geostrategic player in the international arena, especially the European one.
The geostrategic importance of Ukraine is clear by virtue of the inevitable geographical pivot that it enjoys, because it is located between two important geostrategic players, namely the Russian Federation and the European Union, the strategic ally of the United States of America, and these two axes compete for control and influence in Ukraine, as the Russian Federation is the gateway to the Black Sea and Eastern Europe, and large areas of Ukraine, especially the eastern part of it, constitute a natural extension of Russia, which hosts the Russian capital, Moscow, in addition to the passage of 85% of Russian gas (the source of Russian energy and the mainstay of its economy and influence in the European Union) through Ukrainian territory. Thus, it is considered a strategic gas transit corridor to the European Union, which means that this corridor is linked to securing the energy security requirements of the European Union countries.
The status of non-aligned and non-accession to political and military alliances was recognized based on the Ukrainian State, as stated in the External and Internal Security Section of the Declaration on the Sovereignty of the State of Ukraine, adopted on 16 July 1990: “The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic formally declares its intention to become in the future a permanently neutral State not participating in military blocs,” even after the amendments to the fundamental law of Ukraine in 2019, and the inclusion in the Constitution’s text of counting full membership of NATO as a strategic course of State, did not disappear from the document referring to the 1991 Declaration of Independence.