Foreign Policy Diary – Russia’s Responses to NATO Expansionism

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Idea by TheSaker; Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

Coping with NATO’s recent aggressive behavior has been unquestionably the most important issue on the Russian foreign policy agenda, an issue around which all other issues revolve. Considering that NATO is a military alliance, Russia’s responses have necessarily been military in nature so as to find a way out of the current crisis in a way consistent with Russia’s national interests.

From Moscow’s perspective, the relationship with NATO can take one of five forms, in reverse order of desirability:

  1. Hot, “shooting” war.
  2. Post-“color revolution” Russia as a raw materials colony of the West, deprived of its sovereignty, industry, and great power status.
  3. Another “cold war” accompanied by hybrid conflicts, covert warfare, proxy struggles, arms races, and military forward deployments.
  4. Armed neutrality, in which Russia and NATO delineate and respect their corresponding spheres of influence and have no further interaction, for better or worse.
  5. Partnership in resolving global problems.

Needless to say, at the moment the Russia-NATO relationship is close to the “cold war” stage as a result of the Kiev coup d’etat and “color revolutions” being promoted not just against Russia’s allies and neighbors but also against Russia itself. Since the idea of a Russia-NATO partnership seems inconceivable at the moment, and will remain so for as long as the Obama/Cameron/Merkel/Erdogan/Hollande crew is calling the shots in NATO (though that situation could radically change in the next several years, due to term limits, electoral challenges, and all-round unpopularity), the goal of Russia’s policy has been to ratchet the tension down to the level of “armed neutrality” while at the same time preparing for the worst–a “hot war”. Already the ancient Romans knew that “si vis pacem, para bellum”–if you wish peace, prepare for war. Which means that Russia’s military responses have centered at establishing a credible deterrence posture while at the same time signalling the readiness to ratchet down the level of military confrontation. It is not an easy task–one of the lessons of the late 1940s is that responses to crises at hand which are intended to be temporary can quickly become permanent and lock succeeding leaders and administrations into the confrontation which is then passed on, as it were, from generation to generation.

Russian actions also indicate that NATO is not viewed as a unitary actor, which indeed it is not. There is the US, there is also Germany and France, there is Poland and the Baltics, and of course there is Turkey. Each of those sets of countries represents a faction within NATO with its all interests and the ability to pursue them independently of the rest of NATO. It would be a mistake to believe that Warsaw, Ankara, Berlin, Paris, etc.,  all take their orders from Washington. Nevertheless, they do have a certain commonality of interests, for otherwise NATO would have long fallen apart. In regards to Russia, the structure of preferences looks something like this, again, in reverse order of preferability:

  1. Hot, “shooting” war.
  2. Another “cold war” accompanied by hybrid conflicts, covert warfare, proxy struggles, arms races, and military forward deployments.
  3. Partnership in resolving global problems.
  4. Armed neutrality, in which Russia and NATO delineate and respect their corresponding spheres of influence and have no further interaction, for better or worse.
  5. Post “color revolution” Russia as a raw materials colony of the West, deprived of its sovereignty, industry, and great power status.

The current predatory model of capitalism that the West is pursuing means the West’s priorities at the moment are quite incompatible with that of Russia. . Western regime change policies are driven by economic imperialism, pure and simple, though nicely disguised as “globalization”. It is simply colonialism through indirect, local rule, whose aim is to yield economic benefits to the Western powers at the expense of the “neo-colonies”. It means that, fortunately, Western powers are leery of another prolonged “cold war” because of the sheer expense that would be associated with it. Therefore if Russia is to persuade the West that “armed neutrality” is actually desirable, it has to show the ability to engage in a prolonged “cold war” and even a “shooting war” if need be, while at the same time demonstrating its resilience against “color revolutions”. It is admittedly debatable whether armed neutrality is preferable to partnership, from NATO’s perspective. It would appear the West is opposed to cooperation with Russia on matters like international terrorism simply because the West doesn’t view terrorism as the problem. If anything, Russia’s participation in resolving the problem would mean Western “spoils of war” would be greatly reduced. We have seen the West’s twisted priorities in action in Syria, after all.

Given the problem at hand, the various and disparate military measures undertaken by the Russian Federation in the last couple of years that have been chronicled in various issues of the Russia Defense Report should be viewed as pieces of a larger puzzle.

Thus the creation of the Russian Guard is intended to show the West that “color revolution” strategies are bound to fail when used against Russia. Re-establishing Ground Forces’ divisions and even Tank Armies, in addition to the Airborne Forces’ expansion, sends a message to the Baltic States and Poland plus any NATO countries contemplating establishing military presence in these countries  that there is no way NATO can attain conventional superiority over Russia in that part of the world. Potential deployments of Iskander and Kalibr missiles to Kaliningrad and Crimea sends a message to NATO countries further afield, including Germany, France, and Turkey, that they can’t count on staying above the fray–the long arm of Russia’s conventional deterrence can reach them too.  Finally, the US is being put on notice that any effort to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent will face a multifaceted response of targeting anti-ballistic missile sites and deploying new ICBMs and SLBMs that can overcome and/or bypass US missile defenses.

Is this approach, now at least two years in the offing, working? It is too early to say, though the upcoming Warsaw NATO summit will no doubt shed some light on NATO preferences. For now, the apparent unwillingness to commit to permanent troop basing in Eastern Europe and favoring troop rotations instead (which will no doubt prove very onerous for the thinly stretched, demoralized, and underfunded NATO land forces that have not recovered from the Afghanistan and Iraq debacles) suggests that the “armed neutrality” is at least being considered in NATO high councils. On the other hand, should the West’s apparently terminal economic crisis take a turn to the worse, there is no telling what NATO might do in desperation. For that reason, one should not expect anything better than Russia-NATO “armed neutrality” for many years to come, until the West adopts a more sustainable economic model that is not dependent on constant aggression.

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  • dutchnational

    Nice analysis. However, I think, at both sides, policies are based upon assumptions and not cold risk analysisses.

    Most of the western european countries have done away with most of their defense budgets.

    Because of percieved, and partly real, military threats by Russia, western countries are starting to rearm.

    Russia felt threatened by Nato expansion towards the east where, in my opinion, that expansion as in the Baltics was mostly based upon the wish to anchor those small countries within the EU and the west.

    Most europeans would like to be partners, if not friends, with Russia. However, the fear of a country that brought, together with Nazi Germany, so much pain to europe is not forgotten.

    This is why to many europeans the present course of Russia is troubling.

    In the end, a real partnership with developed countries brings more prosperity than a colonial type of relationship.

    • guillotine

      dutchnational: your analysis sucks. The Soviet Union, nor Russia, never came close to NATO, or even individual NATO members, in unwarranted aggression. It is NATO which is nurturing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, neo-nazis in Ukraine, and, no doubt, other atrocities aimed at not only Russia but humanity itself, that is, anyone wanting to remain independent of the machinations of western finance capitalism.

      It is worth remembering that in the 1930’s, despite the outward show of conflict with the Nazis, western capitalists (in Britain, USA, France) were doing business with the Nazis and materially building up their military, and none of them ever faced any charges. Indeed, the western countries didn’t even really fight the Nazis until they were already defeated by the Soviet Union.

      Conflating the ‘crimes’ of communism with the crimes of Nazism is disgusting. Everyone, do your own research. Read fringe books, old, dusty books from the time period, and think for yourself, to find out the reality. Do not read anything originating from western so-called academics: they do not speak the truth, and haven’t since WWI.

      You’re sounding like a Fifth Column.

      • John

        I can tell you are mad!

        But, you have many valid points. What has amazed me and it was only something I recently discovered, was that Ford Motor company was doing business with Germany for the entire war; through Opel.

        A good day to you guillotine.

        • Nexusfast123

          So were other US corporations. Puts a whole new spin on the war and the hidden objectives.

      • dutchnational

        Yes, everyone must do his own research.

        You forget to mention the other side of the 30ies : molotov ribbentrob deal to divide poland, the Katyn massacres, nazi troops training in the SU etc etc.

        You forget the 40ies and later. SU occupying the Baltics, years of guerilla there and ethnic cleansing by the SU, occupation of western Belarus and Ukraine from Poland, millions of poles ethnically cleansed, the occupation of the whole of eastern europe, the invasions of hungary, 1956, chechoslovakia 1968, the revolt in east germany 1954, occupying troops until around 1982.

        Most middle and eastern europeand peoples plain dislike or even hate the russians and Russia.

        So, to them both the nazis and the SU were awfull and reason for distrust. The more so as lots of people feel revanchism coming out of Russia.

        So, in my opinion, your analysis sucks even more then mine does.

        • fairplay

          1) mo-r deal came after deal of wetsren countries with hitler in munchen. they betrayed the allied czechoslovakia and gave sudets.
          this deal came after destroying of czechoslovakia and occupying och czech parts gy germany. western counries did not enything. otherwiese the fasistic regime in poland also gesled with hitler and together divided czechoslovakia. the deal with garmany came after rejection of suggestion of cooperation between SU and western countries.the SU offered mikitary help for czechoslovakia, the western countries pushed benes in position to reject the help. if would stopped hitler in munchen, woukld be no 2nd WW. the blood is on the hands of “demicratic” western countries. they, and only they are responsible for the all died people in europe and north africa during ww2.

          i will continue tomorrow and destroy all your argues, little dutch worm!

          • dutchnational

            Bet you you are littler than me.

            However, Munich was indeed a disgrace, just as much as the Molotov Ribbentrop deal. Both western Europe and the SU played a part in the rise of Nazi Germany, which was my point altogether.

  • John

    I found the article thoughtful, offering fecund opportunities for reflection. I wish to offer one idea of my own.

    Modern weaponry, when utilized by those who can administer it to the fullest potential is devasting. There is no other way to put it. Whether NATO or Russia, each understands how to bring it to a foe. Hence, casualties would not be one guy died and we all stand around the grave morning, with one of us in a shoulder sling from the battle. It would be more like the graveyard was lit up too. My sense is Russia has more of a tolerance for this. My country, the US, has none. A few thousand servicemen disappear in a week and the reply from the public to leadership would be clear; What the hell are you doing and what happened to our kids? And from there, it only goes downhill.

    Imagine a few months of full on conflict between the two parties. There won´t be an internet. Anybody watching TV would be considered extremely lucky. The phone systems would be destroyed. The stock markets would nolonger exist in anywhere near current form. The only speeches being given would be from the front lawn of the White House, maybe, with the President speaking into loudspeakers for stricly a local audience, while the gerbals in the cage next to him provide elctricity. This is the kind of fire that is being played with now.

    So,…. I think Russia is in a better position than publically whispered. I like the fact that they are careful about what they say and much more forthcoming in explanations than my government

    I hope none of what is possible comes to pass and I wish all a good weekend.

  • Lech

    Russians seems to apply the tested and proven strategy toward their Western Partners of Suvorov and Stalin. Another kind of dealing with those criminals is the Polaks’ way as in 1939. Not like others little doggies, they stood up to Hitler. That’s the noble way. When writing in on the wall, the right thing is just to go for it.
    Young Germans who fought with Romans legionaries shouted: We don’t want to die old. We want to die young. That’s the man’s spirit. Cowardes is shame.
    Anyway Doomsday day for the Mother Earth is coming soon. Some scientist predict is for 2025, others for 2036 and 2040. That’ll bring sure peace for all.

  • sepheronx

    The smartest decision Russia made was the creation of the national guard. Although, 400,000 isn’t enough and that number will need to be increased. But essentially, still smartest decision they made. This group will be what is needed for the integrity and security of Russia for years to come. They will be investigating and dealing with dissidents wanting to push colored revolutions in Russia, or to create mayhem that benefit US but not Russia.

    • Random guy

      is it like NKVD?

      • sepheronx

        No. Not even close. I suggest you do some research before trolling.

        • Random guy

          sorry if it came out wrong. But I actually was curious, not trolling. but thanks anyways.

          • RainToh

            SF has a video on that. Basically it is like the French National Gendarmerie

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Gendarmerie

          • sepheronx

            Sorry if I was hostile then. I seriously thought that was trolling. As RainToh said, it is much like French National Gendarmerie. Anyway, sorry.

          • Random guy

            thanks for info. But does Gendarmerie do investigations, or are they just an armed force for security?
            it is just I think NKVD was very effective, perhaps a little brutal at a time, but definitely got the job done. so I thought a more humaine version of NKVD would be productive.

  • JakeSn

    The West isn’t pursuing at the moment a predatory type of capitalism. Capitalism is inherently predatory and imperialist. What Russia is naive about is that there can be a peaceful, coexisting capitalism of equal nations – such has never existed and never will. The challenge is still to overcome and destroy capitalism, including its Russian form

  • Rodna Vera

    In your analysis of western and eastern you should talk of United Slavic nations in one strongest and biggest nation and real religion of our own Rodna vera, not this Christianity that Jews and Byzantines planted false and divided the biggest nation in Europe and one of the biggest in the world !

    And this will happen sooner than you think and situation in Europe and the world will be changed drastically. Good for Slavic people and bad for others