Russia And NATO Headed For Cold War 2.0?

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Russia And NATO Headed For Cold War 2.0?
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The past year has seen a marked worsening of relations between the Russia and the West.

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Aggressive rhetoric and military drills have become increasingly common as the West struggles to find a way to contain Russia’s desire for greater influence in the countries of the former Soviet Union, and punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, writes Fred Weir for The Christian Science Monitor.

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Russia and NATO’s military drills growing in size

Moscow and NATO have both engaged in a number of increasingly large military drills, and military activity raises the possibility of an accident which could provoke conflict, or at least a further increase in tensions.

The progression towards larger military drills shows no sign of slowing down, with NATO currently preparing for the Trident Juncture 2015, christened “the biggest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War.”

Over 35,000 troops, 200 aircraft and 50 warships from 33 countries will take part in exercises across Italy, Spain and Portugal from September 28 to November 6, with the aim of testing the NATO Response Force, and especially the rapid response Point Force.

Aggressive rhetoric increasingly common

As well as military drills, the rhetoric stepped up a notch this week as both sides moved closer to permanently deploying troops in border zones, breathing new life into the specter of the Cold War. Not only does there exist the threat of conventional weapons, but long-standing treaties on the deployment of nuclear weapons are also being strained.

“This confrontation so far has been mostly just for show, with each side trying to demonstrate to its own people and the other guy that they are determined not to back down. Leaders on both sides are sure they can control it,” and roll it back whenever they decide to, says Viktor Kremeniuk, deputy director of the official Institute of USA-Canada Studies in Moscow.

Deployments only add to tensions

The U.S. recently revealed a plan to deploy heavy weaponry along NATO’s borders with Russia, a move which Moscow claims is a gross violation of previous agreements.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would be forced to react to such a plan. “If someone threatens our territories, it means that we will have to aim our armed forces accordingly at the territories from where the threat is coming. How else could it be? It is NATO that approaching our borders, it’s not like we are moving anywhere,” he said.

This week, Putin announced that 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles would be added to Russia’s arsenal this year, provoking criticism from Western leaders. However bad the headlines may read, both sides are in fact modernizing their arsenals and the situation appears to be largely under control.

Medium- and short-range nuclear missiles are an area of greater concern for some experts. NATO’s missile defense system seems likely to provoke the deployment of Iskander-M missile in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Accusations of treaty violations have been flying from both sides. Washington has said that Moscow has violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) accord, and then threatened to deploy nuclear-capable missiles in Europe. Such a move would spell the end for the INF.

“We are seeing a very serious turn,” says Alexander Golts, an independent expert on the Russian military. “We had a stable status quo, based mainly on treaties and mutual trust. When you transition from that to a situation where security is based on mutual military deterrence, that’s a very different world. But that’s where we are headed, quite rapidly.”

Treaty violations only encourage return to Cold War-style standoff

The cancellation of the INF could see the return of the nuclear standoff which weighed heavily on Europe in the mid-1980s, when the population of almost all European capitals knew that they were within 8 minutes of Soviet and U.S. missiles.

“It’s in no one’s interests to scrap this treaty, but it’s clearly become a target for people on both sides who think words must be backed up by resolute actions,” says Kremeniuk.

“We have all these people who never left the cold war mentality behind, who seem to think their moment has arrived. The logic of escalating rhetoric, followed by confirming actions, is already in full swing. Unless leaders on both sides call a halt to this deterioration, the basic pillars of European security – which people worked so hard to put in place – could get knocked away.”

Politicians on both sides need to arrest the slide towards Cold War 2.0 before it is too late. Hawkish elements in Washington and Moscow appear to be winning the public relations battle at the moment, but the situation must be changed before the battle turns into a full-blown international war.

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While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. <i>To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at theflask@gmail.com</i>
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14 COMMENTS

  1. A lot of delinquent people there are in “fully” democratic countries as well. I’m not in favor of Putin, but if you know arithmetic, count how many deaths Putin has caused and compare with how many deaths we caused with our messing in the Middle East?
    By the way, Wab..: I think our discussion should end as we have different views on many events, especially considering that your knowledge of history is very limited.

  2. You told me. Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I forgot you come from a totalitarian state..OK, the facts. Uh, lets see. Russian invades Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Russia shoots down civilian airliner with heavy loss of life. Russia denies it’s soldiers inside Ukraine despite selfies taken by Russian regulars posted to the internet. Russia says US to blame. He meant to say ‘us’, but saw it capitalized and thought’ “hey, I might be on to something”, and left it as ‘US’. Those dastardly Amerikanskyes…trying to spoil our rightful place with North Korea…a world pariah only relevant because she has nuclear weapons., Yeah, that’s it.

  3. That’as all you can do – getting personal! I told you, idiot – stick to the facts. By the way – I also can use an offensive words with idiots like yourself: f==k you. As I said: go and clean toilets, that’s all you can do!

  4. Russian troll. How’s that for names, you ridiculous fraud? Fly an airliner anywhere near and you’re toast. Obvious. Shallow. The only words this clown doesn’t use to clearly identify his true identity is ‘sheeple’…they like that one, or did until it was called out. f-you Joseph. Russian filth.

  5. Web: You’re really have to educate yourself. You keep repeating same over and over, calling me names, instead of sticking to facts. It becomes boring. You deny obvious, and your thinking is too shallow to continue our conversation – you’re hopeless. My advice to you: stop making comments about issues you have no idea what you’re talking about. Go and do something more appropriate and useful for our country – like …cleaning public places.

  6. No, no connection to Poroshenko, and your line about ‘free independent media’ is a line the trolls use almost word for word all the time..same with the word ‘there’ confused with ‘their’..very common mistake by Russian trolls. Easy to edit if you know it’s incorrect, but no. Can you drop the pretense, please? OK, enough. You’ve earned your 50 rubles I guess. You can google the Russia soldier selfies any time you you like, and just the idea that Putin is ‘indirectly’ involved in Ukraine goes against the government intelligences of every single country observing the sadness in Ukraine. It has nothing to do with the media you Ruskies disdain with such ferocity. If they weren’t certain, there would be no sanctions, and the sanctions are going to get worse. If you don’t see America as your enemy today, just wait. A confrontation is building that I, and all the world can only hope stays conventional. It’s inevitable.

  7. Russians in Crimea and E. Ukraine have same rights for a self determination as French in Canada and Scotts in UK. To say otherwise is hypocrisy. E. Ukraine can perfectly well to defend themselves, since now days you can buy any arms, including aircraft carrier, if you have money. And I said Putin supports E. Ukrainians indirectly. Even if there are some soldiers from Russia there are plenty volunteers who’ll gladly support there brothers in E. Ukraine. And you didn’t respond to my main point – Russia isn’t an enemy of USA. So, don’t give this crap about selfies and other thing you read in our “free, independent” media. It’s you are who is brainwashed, not me. By the way, any connections to Poroshenko?

  8. Doesn’t respect him well enough? Are you serious? Such a petty, childish sense of political realities. Obama probably could care less what Putin thinks of him personally. Judging by any number of rumors and Putin-opponent comments (to Charlie Rose in one interview), Putin is a racist who considers blacks…and I assume, Asians, Semitics and any other non-white…inferior. Again, if that were true, and even if it were certifiable fact, Obama could care less. As for eastern Ukraine, Russia has intervened directly with heavy weapons and troops in support of an insurrection…and don’t give me that ‘no Russian troops in Ukraine crap. The troops are taking selfies and posting them on the internet for Gods sake. That is an invasion of a sovereign country, no less than Hitler in Czechoslovakia or Russia invading Hungary in 1956, then Czechoslovakia in 1968. It’s tantamount to (a much more powerful) Mexico aiding a secessionist movement by California. The US should be, and soon will be providing Ukraine with heavy weapons, and more US troops will aid and advise. If Russia does have designs on all of Ukraine, they will pay a very bloody price for it, but then, Russian leaders have never really cared about the loss of life, so Russia’s success may be a foregone conclusion. And yes, Russia is an enemy of the United States. I feel that way, and everyone I know feels that way…many very educated, liberal thinkers. If Russia ‘allows’ US access to certain supply lanes, great. Russia is an enemy. My enemy.

  9. Wab..: You’re dead wrong: Russia isn’t our enemy. It’s us (better to say our politicians) who are doing their best to push Russia away from us to China. What actually Russia did to us? Russia was helping us during the war in Afghanistan allowing to transport equipment over Russia’s territory, Russia provided us with a list of potential terrorists, among them those who are now known as Boston marathon bombers. Russia actively support us in dealing with Iran, and, yes, Russia against our attempts to dispose Assad in Syria based on a very bad results with Libya and Iraq. But in general Russia, I bet, wants to be our ally not an adversary. Putin perfectly well understands that it is for our mutual benefits to be allies than not. It’s us meddling in dispute between Ukraine and (not Russia itself) but East Ukrainians who wants only one thing – autonomy. Of course Russia supports E. Ukrainians , since they are Russians people as well, but not actively, as Obama states, but indirectly.
    Wouldn’t we do same in a similar situation?
    And again, why this sudden a love affair with Ukraine? I think only to hurt Putin, because, I suspect, Obama feels that Putin doesn’t respect him well enough. Otherwise, if not for our meddling Ukraine and Russia long ago would’ve come to a resolution of the dispute.
    PS Normally I don’t use offensive words, but you started it. Hope, we’ll not repeat it.

  10. Well, you do have some points. Bush was a disastrous President that will have negative ripple effects twenty years from now. Unwittingly…and that’s being generous…he came close to destroying our economy,wasted our treasure and our blood in a completely fruitless cause, leaving…as you say…our education, infrastructure and social networks in shambles. No argument there, and yes, we would be well advised to get our own house in order…no mean feat. Problem is, there are entire countries out there dedicated to our destruction, and yes, Russia is one of those. Putin despises the Unites States. There’s N. Korea, China is no friend, only a tenuous trading partner with her own agenda. There’s ISIL, Al Queda…on and on. We cannot get our house in order when under siege from the front yard. We must use our power to keep the dogs of war at bay, and right now, there’s a whole pack of ’em.

  11. We are talking of Russia, (since 1991) whereas Viet Nam was when Soviet Union was still there. Ukraine was created by Russia, and only by Russia and if not for a good will of Russia there wouldn’t be Ukraine today. It’s not me, but you shall learn the History, on one hand and on other USA (yes us, idiot) created a mess in the middle East and is up to the neck in s–t. Better first show you can solve our main problem then try to teach the world how to live. So far it was all the way down the road, since George W became a President. We have so many problem with infrastructure, education, racial tensions, gun control and we still putting ourselves as #1. Get your own house in order, than you might be right trying to save the world, idiot.

  12. Let us talk about Russian ladies for a change. There is no Cold War between Russian girls and American guys, what ever might John Kerry or NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg say. On the contrary, American guys love Russian girls for their honesty, elegance, hard work and their beauty. Anyone who says different knows nothing about East European women. So stop talking about new Cold War between ordinary people. It is only some governments and the Military Industrial Complex which would love a new Cold War.

  13. ‘Us” comrade? Look, you studied your talking points well, and I’m sure your handlers are pleased, but the truth is, Russia has done plenty over the decades…far too innumerable to list here, and I suspect you know that…just one example: Russia made a point of sending heavy weapons and missile systems to North Viet Nam, and even flew fighter missions that cost thousands of American lives. That’s just a ripple in a sea of Russian aggression aimed at the US. So, please don’t try to play the innocent victim card. Russia/USSR has been a disruptive force upon this earth dating back to your Bolshevik Revolution. The US supports Ukraine because they’re a sovereign country under attack from a US adversary. See? That wasn’t hard. Russia is no friend. Russia is not our ‘partner’, as Putin would like to characterize it. Russia is our adversary, perhaps even our enemy..where enemy is defined as someone who would like to see your distraction. We have completely different views on just about everything, with the possible exception of terrorism, and even there, I’m not so certain Putin is all that on board…where is he in the fight against ISIS? Putin can’t run his own little fiefdom. He shouldn’t be exporting his chaos to others.

  14. I read more rhetoric from WEST media about Russian aggressive polices than what Russia is actually doing. NATO and USA are going to deploy forces at the boarders of Russia. Is Russia deploying its forces at the USA boarders? Or attacking any EU country? It is not our f–ing business meddle into relations between Russia and its former parts, including Ukraine. And finally, what actually has Russia done to USA? As far as I know Russia was helping us during the war in Afghanistan, allowing to transport equipment over Russian territory, and providing us with the list of potential terrorists among them those who are known now as Boston marathon bombers. And how we reciprocated: slapped Russia with economic sanctions. And how much our Obama was rejoicing that the sanctions are taking a heavy tall on Russia and stating at the same time that it is not intended against Russian people. Hypocrite and demagogue. I’m really puzzled with this sudden “love affair” with Ukraine. What happened, why, what Ukraine actually has done for us? Anyone?

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