Saturday, November 15, 2014

Harbinger of a New Cold War?
One of the strangest observations about the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014 is that it could lead to a new Cold War.
A new Cold War? What happened to the old one?
The so-called Cold War, which erupted after World War II, when the victorious allies belatedly discovered that their eastern partner, the USSR, has uncloaked itself as the new enemy, came to an end only in the minds of leaders of the free world.
The Kremlin leaders of the USSR and the Russian Federation never regarded the Cold War to be over. As faithful adherents of their imperial ideology of expansion by peaceful, clandestine or military means, Russia will continue to be engaged in all forms of combat with its “near abroad,” NATO and the US until it ultimately prevails, vanquishes or subdues its enemies, and emerges victorious.
The smashing of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the decolonization of Ukraine and the other Soviet “republics” was not regarded as a fait accompli by Russian leaders. That bitter pill was difficult for them to swallow but they did not lose heart and lick their wounds. They retrenched and devoted money and attention to build their conventional and military might and security policy in order to restore in time the global superiority of Holy Mother Russia.
If that game plan is difficult to believe, just look around at what’s happening. Russian tanks and troops are on the move in Ukraine and in the air and seas around Europe, and even the US and Australia.
Russia’s plan to achieve global superiority of Holy Mother Russia is stoked by three points: Washington’s opposition to its policies, NATO’s anti-Russian policy, and, especially, the loss of Ukraine and the other former captive nations.
In Russian leaders’ minds, the first two points must be neutralized and the last one must be returned to the previous status of a captive nations.
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) and member of the Public Council under the Russian Defense Ministry, discussed all of these points in an article on on Aug. 15, 2013 – shortly after Putin’s visit to Kyiv, where he laid down his warning that Ukraine must return to the fold or else.
“It is important to note that in the foreseeable future, Russia will retain its complete military superiority over the former Soviet republics, and maintain its military-strategic dominance in the former Soviet territories,” Pukhov wrote. “As for the possibility of the conflicts of the second type, relations between Russia and the US are now largely based on typical great power rivalry of the kind that existed in the 19th century.”
US-Russia relations have always resembled typical great power rivalry but mostly due to Russia’s adventurism and mission of dominating the world.
Pukhov elaborated on Russia’s three defense security goals:
  •         Putting military-political pressure on the domestic and foreign policies of the former Soviet republics, and using military force against these republics, if such force is required to protect Russian national interests.
  •         Military deterrence of the US and the NATO countries, with the primary goal of preventing any Western meddling in conflicts in the former Soviet republics or Western attempts to forestall possible Russian actions with regard to these republics
  •         Participation in countering internal threats such as separatism and terrorism.

Pukhov explained why NATO is in Russia’s crosshairs: “NATO is still being regarded by Moscow as the main external military threat. For all the efforts made in the post-Soviet period, the Russia-NATO relationship has not become a partnership. Such a situation is, in fact, entirely natural, due to the obviously different nature of the two sides’ military-political views and interests.
“NATO was created as a military coalition against the sole adversary, the Soviet Union (Russia). NATO is an alliance whose purpose is to defend Europe from Russia. For all the latest geopolitical shifts in Europe and globally, NATO remains an anti-Russian military alliance, and the main reason for its existence is militarily defending European states (including the new NATO members) from Russia.”
Apparently Russia respects NATO’s military prowess and threat more than the alliance recognizes them. Its tepid military reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates how NATO is struggling to work out a doable course of action chiefly in view of the other eastern European countries’ fears of Russia invading them.
Pukhov noted Russia’s concerns about eastern European countries’ activities and their distrust of Moscow.
“The admission of the former Warsaw Pact members and the Baltic states to NATO has been a huge factor behind the instability in relations between Russia and NATO. All these new members regard Russia as their traditional historical enemy. To these countries, the greatest value of NATO is that the alliance is an anti-Russian military coalition. The main goal of the foreign policy of most East European states is to weaken Russia and undermine its influence. This is why these countries are constantly provoking a series of endless crises in relations with Russia in an effort to paralyze any cooperation between Russia and Western Europe.”
He said Russia reserves its greatest anxiety for Ukraine and Georgia, pointing out their attempts to accede to NATO are particularly irritating.
“As for the problem of Ukraine’s possible accession to NATO, the issue is a ticking nuclear time bomb for Russian-Western relations. Attempts to drag Ukraine into NATO would cause a tremendous pan-European military and political crisis. In addition, Ukraine itself would be plunged into an extremely deep domestic political crisis owing to the different cultural orientations and values of Ukrainians living in different parts of the country. The West underestimates the importance of the Ukrainian issue for Russia, and the role of Ukraine as a colossal destabilizing factor in Western-Russian relations in the immediate term. The West often imagines that Russia will be forced, one way or another, to succumb to the eventual Ukrainian accession to NATO. That is a dangerous delusion, which could lead to a catastrophic turn of events,” he wrote, adding that “the participation of Ukraine and Georgia in the western security architecture constitutes a red line for Russia.”
Russia’s National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to 2020, adopted on May 19, 2009, foresees the development of its armed forces and military structure at least on par with the US.
“The main challenge of strengthening national defense in the medium term is the transition towards a qualitatively new profile for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, while maintaining the potential of the strategic nuclear forces, by improving the organizational staff structure and system of territorially-based troops and forces, increasing the number of divisions at constant readiness, and likewise improving operations and combat training, as well as improving the organization of interaction among different troops and forces,” the document states.
These declarations were not made during Brezhnev or Khrushchev’s times but within the past couple of years, with Putin in power.
A Russian defense minister has insisted that Russia’s official military doctrine be rewritten to allow for a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the US and NATO, reported Interfax on Sept. 4. Russian Army Gen. Yury Yakubov said the doctrine, last revised in 2010, should be updated to classify the United States and other NATO countries as the “main enemy” of Russia. Yakubov, who is from the defense ministry’s inspector general’s office, also said it is time “to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a pre-emptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces.”
Russia’s principal newspaper, Pravda, warned on Nov. 12 that Russia has a “surprise” for the US if Washington continues to support Ukraine in today’s war with Russia. The article titled “Russia Prepares Nuclear Surprise for NATO,” cited a Sept. 1 State Department report that noted that US and Russia had reached parity in terms of deployed strategic nuclear weapons. The message of the article is evident: The readily deployable Russian nuclear arsenal is growing and now matches that of the US. So be careful where your tread, Washington.
US Gen. Philip Breedlove, known for recognizing Russia’s threat to Ukraine, eastern Europe and the world, said earlier this week that Russian forces “capable of being nuclear” are being moved to the Crimean peninsula, but NATO doesn't know if nuclear weapons are actually in place.
While the peace dividend of the perceived end of the Cold War has lulled Washington into believing that the time is ripe for a reset in relations with Russia, Moscow has continued apace to develop, expand and train its military, giving it the ability to invade any country, anytime.
Five days after the Winter Olympics concluded in Sochi, Russia invaded Crimea, occupied the peninsula and in the end annexed it. Was that a spur of the moment military action or one whose logistics demanded many months of preparations? That armed incursion launched the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014 and in the spring Russian mercenaries took to arms in eastern Ukraine, paving the way for a second invasion by Russian regular forces. Impromptu or planned in advance? Russia prepared for war while talking about peace and nuclear disarmament.
While Ukrainian soldiers, guardsmen and volunteer battalions have been defending their homeland in eastern Ukraine, Russia has been reminding the free world that it has the military capability to fly over its territories and approach their territorial waters with impunity.
The European Leadership Network (ELN) examined 39 incidents of military encounters between Russian planes and boats, and NATO forces and allies, in the last eight months and concluded that the “highly disturbing” violations of national airspace had caused several incidents where military confrontation or the loss of life was narrowly avoided.
Its report listed near-misses including violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea and simulated bombing attacks stretching from the North Sea to the Baltic and Arctic regions and along the US coast.
The report rhetorically questioned whether President Vladimir Putin is merely flexing Russia’s military muscle to test NATO or simply increasing readiness amid the tensions that followed Putin’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine. Actually, it may be an irrelevant question because both points are tightly connected.
In the midst of all of this, the world’s disjointed leaders have agreed to sit at the same table with Vladimir Putin for the G20 meeting in Australia, where Ukrainians are planning mass demonstration to protest the Russian dictator’s presence on Australian soil. In advance of the meeting, British Foreign Minister David Cameron compared Russia with Nazi Germany and expressed hope that the world must learn the lessons of current history. Eloquently stated. But remember, Churchill didn’t meet with Hitler but leaders of the G19 will meet with Putin. Has morality changed that much since the end of World War II?
It seems that history will repeat itself for Ukraine and it will be abandoned or betrayed by the free world. Soon after independence was declared on August 24, 1991, Ukraine was arm twisted by everyone into surrendering its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security guarantees. Again, Ukraine lived up to its end of the deal but its partners didn’t. Ukraine has abided by the terms of the truce in the war with Russia but the invader hasn’t.
In a joint commentary on current affairs, former Presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Viktor Yushchenko noted: “Ukraine’s nuclear status was sacrificed for the sake of international stability and peace, and now the West is debating over whether it is safe to supply small arms Ukrainian defenders.”
Kevin Ryan, director of defense and intelligence projects at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, opined in The New York Times on Nov. 14 that the free world should forcefully confront Russia without regard for nuclear threats. “Until Russia removes its troops from eastern Ukraine and ceases its military support to pro-Russian separatists there, the United States should suspend any discussion on future arms reductions or cooperation on securing Russian nuclear materials and weapons.

“The US could continue to meet its obligations for nuclear weapons reductions under the New Start treaty. This would, for all practical purposes, end such cooperation. But the threat from Russian adventurism in Eastern Europe outweighs the potential threat from loose nuclear material.”
The Cold War is not over, Russia is still obnoxiously threatening the world, and the former captive nations are still scared of Russian terror. The more things change, the more they remain the same.