With Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his security council to develop defensive nuclear equipment, the Pentagon says Moscow is poised to use nuclear weapons to “bring a speedy peace.”
Evelyn Farkas, who quit the position of Pentagon’s top policy expert on Russia just hours ago, urged the Obama administration to consider sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, deploying permanent contingent of ground troops in Eastern Europe, making the European Reassurance Initiative permanent, and supplying more military equipment to countries neighboring with Russia.
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Farkas’ comments come amid news that NATO will station some 4,000 combat troops in countries bordering Russia. Both American and Russia experts say the move has a high chance to escalate the risk of a war in Europe and a military confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers: the U.S. and Russia.
A war involving NATO, the U.S. and Russia “would probably spell, if not the end of humanity, the end of any possibility of a comfortable future for humanity,” as reported by ValueWalk, citing Press TV’s interview with Don DeBar, U.S. political analyst.
Russia is much more reckless with nuclear weapons than Soviet Union
“We have to continue reassuring, but we have to do one better, we actually have to deter,” Farkas told reporters at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast today, as reported by Breaking Defense.
Farkas dismisses claims that say we are back in the Cold War, because first of all, Russia is not the Soviet Union, the Russian economy is not strong enough and the Russians are “brittle politically,” Farkas said. However, she added that it “doesn’t mean they’re not a danger.”
Compared to the Soviet Union, modern Russia is smaller in its size but it’s much more sophisticated technologically and militarily. “They are our peers when it comes to cyber,” Farkas said. She added that today’s Russia is also much more reckless and dangerous than Leonid Brezhnev’s Politburo when it comes to “nuclear saber-rattling.”
In the Cold War era, both Russia and the U.S. had a “healthy” respect for the horrific and destructive power of nuclear weapons, and viewed them as means of the last resort. But Putin’s Russian military follows a paradoxical doctrine of “escalate to deescalate,” which means Moscow would easily use nuclear weapons to “bring a speedy peace.” A mere thought about it is “highly alarming,” according to the Pentagon’s top expert on Russia.
Russia is the only country in the world with the nuclear capability to destroy the U.S., according to Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, as reported by ValueWalk on Tuesday.
The General also views Russia as “aggressive” and “adversarial to the interests of the United States,” which is why Moscow’s nuclear weapons are capable of destroying the U.S.
Milley warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent behavior suggests Moscow would be willing to use nuclear weapons. The General also noted that Russia has been violating “the Westphalian order” ever since it started invading “sovereign nations” in 2008.
Putin broke NATO-Russia agreement
The reason Farkas quit the Pentagon was “personal reasons,” which is understandable for someone who has spent three intense years working in an administration that becomes weaker day by day.
Farkas recently went beyond the current party line by proposing a policy on Russia that is much more rough than what the Obama administration publicly endorses. Over the three years working with the Obama administration, Farkas has grown frustrated over a number of things.
“Here I’ll go out on a limb beyond what [the] administration would say: The NATO-Russia framework agreement is broken. The Russians broke it,” she said. The NATO-Russia agreement, signed in 1997, obliged all parties to respect the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” of European states, such as Georgia and Ukraine.
Russia has broken the agreement two times over the past 7 years: first in Georgia in 2008 and then in Ukraine in 2014 by annexing Crimea and sending its troops in eastern Ukraine.
“Russia’s broken it but somehow we are and our allies have decided that we’re going to keep up with the letter of it even, although maybe not the spirit,” she said.
Under the NATO-Russia agreement, the Alliance foreswore “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.” Farkas said US European Command has to consider the possibility of U.S. forces stationed permanently in eastern allies like Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
U.S. has to encircle Russia to reassure Europe
But Farkas noted that it’s not only European allies Washington has to reassure to prevent Russia’s aggression. Former nations of the Soviet empire require U.S. military assistance against Putin’s increasing pressure, too, according to the Pentagon expert.
“I was very excited to see this past week Secretary [of State] Kerry go through Central Asia,” Farkas said. “We need more high-level attention being paid to the countries that feel directly threatened by Russia…. not just Ukraine but Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan… The countries around the periphery of Russia, they need our political attention. They also need our economic assistance and they need our military assistance [to] deter Russia.”
The Kremlin has repeatedly warned the U.S. against encircling the country by stationing its troops all around Russia’s periphery.
Farkas also commented on the Pentagon’s investments to counter Russian capability. “I want to actually commend Deputy Secretary [Robert] Work because he really took on the challenge of how do we better deter Russia, very seriously and I would say aggressively,” she said and added that Work does his best to direct funding to deterring Russia in FY16 and FY17.