Cold War Redux

The XX Committee* has a great post on just who NATO is facing in Russia, and why our responses have been so poor.

As the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, with the Russian military and its “rebel” minions never having honored the Minsk-brokered “ceasefire” for even an hour, something like low-grade panic is setting in among NATO capitals. Western elites have a tough time sizing up Putin and his agenda realistically, for reasons I’ve elaborated, and the situation seems not to be improving.

German has a delightfully cynical line, die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt (hope dies last), that sums up much of the wishful thinking that currently holds sway in Berlin, Paris, and Washington, DC. As the reality that Putin knows he is at war against Ukraine, and may seek a wider war against NATO too, is a prospect so terrifying that thousands of Western diplomats and “foreign policy experts” would rather not ponder it, so they don’t.

A classic example comes in a recent press report about how Western foreign ministries are striving to prevent Putin from doing more to destabilize Eastern Europe. Amidst much dithering about how to deter Putin — more sanctions? maybe some, but not too many, weapons for Ukraine? how about some really biting hashtags? — NATO leaders aren’t coming up with anything that can be termed a coherent policy, much less a strategy.

Western nations have consistently underestimated Putin’s willingness to use force.

How can we forget Putin overseeing the Second Chechen War? The 2008 invasion of Georgia? We’ve already effectively conceded Crimea. For that matter, who seriously thinks diplomacy will ever return eastern Ukrainian lands from Moscow’s grip?

Will we see a straight up invasion of Germany right out of Red Storm Rising? Probably not.

But almost certainly some “incident” will eventually take place in Latvia or one of the other Baltic nations that will, by amazing coincidence, be used by Putin to justify some Russian intervention.

Which, what a coincidence:

Increasingly frequent snap military drills being carried out by Russia near its eastern European neighbours could be part of a strategy that will open the door for a Russian offensive on the Baltic states according to defence expert Martin Hurt, deputy director at Estonia’s International Centre for Defence and Security.

The Lithuanian and Estonian defence ministries have expressed alarm at the increased military activity, and drawn comparisons with moves prior to the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Commenting on Russia’s announcement last week that its armed forces will not cease holding snap military exercises, Hurt, who has previously worked for Estonia’s Ministry of Defence as well as for the armed forces of both Estonia and Sweden, warned against taking this news lightly.


*If you don’t know where they got their blog name from, you most certainly should read this.

5 thoughts on “Cold War Redux”

  1. This problem could be largely solved by reintroducing Lend-Lease. Ukraine gets to pull whatever it wants out of the export aisles of the Military-industrial complex and whatever they don’t pay for in outright cash they can buy by granting the US basing rights in the Ukraine, say one base-year per $10 million in merchandise. Putin could increase support to the separatists, but he’d just be granting the US more time as a Black Sea power or with armored brigades a few hundred miles – of wide open steppe – from Moscow. Throw in a back-door message that Russian “volunteers” were one thing, but if combat formations crossed the frontier Moscow becomes a self-lighting parking lot, and there’s no way for Putin to win.

    Of course, this is all predicated on having an administration composed of adults.

    1. The “separatists” seem to be nothing more than a cover at best. Russian troops have been captured and their military ID and internal passports placed on display.

      1. I’m sure more than a few separatists are Russian troops sent in at Moscow’s behest, it’s one of those lies that everyone knows is false but pretends is true that is so common and necessary to foreign relations. I don’t think those troops stand a chance against the entire Ukrainian army with access to all the equipment and supplies the US can offer. The main goal is to ensure that Russia doesn’t become an official belligerent.

        It would actually work against Putin on another level. These “volunteers” are most certainly among the best the Redussian Army can field. Every one of these lost diminishes the average level of competency for the force as a whole.

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