Record amount of hostile forces are on the borders of Russia.
Originally appeared at Svpressa, translated by Comrade Korolyov exclusively for SouthFront
Such an assembly of enemy forces near the Russian border didn’t exist since the Axis invasion of the USSR in 1941, famous American politologist, Russian affairs specialist Stephen Cohen says.
He notes, that NATO has been increasing the size of their force near the Russian border – on land, sea and air. He also says, that Moscow wasn’t faced with such a gigantic amount of troops since the Great Patriotic War. The Russians haven’t forgotten that war, which is why they are extremely suspicious of NATO’s actions. The American professor states that the official reason behind such a grand military assembly of NATO forces in Europe is bordering on a circus show.
-The Alliance has the audacity to complain about Russia moving their military closer to NATO”, – he says. – The Russian Federation has full rights to deploy their forces on their own territory whenever they want and wherever they want – including Crimea and Kaliingrad.
Today’s crisis between Russia and NATO is comparable to the Caribbean Crisis of 1962. But, Cohen says, today the situation is more dangerous than then. In 1962 the Soviet missiles were supposedly “90 miles off the American coast”. Today NATO has theirs much much closer to Russia – literally two steps away from the border.
Is the American researcher correct in these historical analogies? Is it true that there is indeed a record amount of enemy forces on the Russian border?
-From one point of view, if we compare the potentials of the countries that entered WW2, we can agree with his thesis – main editor of “Problems of national strategy” journal of the Russian Strategic Research Institute, politologist Adzhar Kurtov says. – Then,an Anti-Hitler coalition was formed that was opposed to the Axis, and nowadays the US, the British and the French are on the todays “Axis” side. From the other point of view, his comparison of the situation with WW2 is one-sided. Then there was an open confrontation between the two opposing forces that could never have coexisted in peace: the Third Reich and Japanese Empire with USSR, USA and Britain. Compared to those reasons, the reasons behind today’s confrontation pale.
As in goes for the Caribbean Crisis, in big part the reason behind it was Nikita Khruschov’s theory of Communism’s Victory in near future and complete failure of capitalism that ideologically drove the US and USSR directly opposite each other.
Today, the US and its satellites do all they can to prevent Russian development and hinder the spread of Moscow’s influence in the world, but we don’t think those attempts can lead to an open military confrontation. It is clear, that noone will seriously risk extermination of, if not all, then most people in the world just to stop Russia. All serious analysts understand, that Russia is not threatening anyone, it is just trying to ensure it is respected, and her national interests are accounted for, and it does it by international law. Whatever anyone else is saying, Crimea was perfect from the legal standpoint.
We need to include the fact that information wars are one of many tools used in this conflict – sometimes, the media is purposefully throwing oil into the fire so that people think the situation is hopeless. However, nothing is this tragic in reality. Russia is not “isolated”. It has very good connections with many countries, Russia is part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. And while Russia doesn’t have a defensive military alliance with India or China, the fact that it is part of the same international organisation is a prevention factor on its own.
-After the fall of France in 1940, the Soviet Union was faced on its western border with the military might of the entire Western civilisation. And from the east – with the Empire of the Rising Sun, who, by then, could probably compete with the USSR militarily on its own. Potentially, our allies were the US and Great Britain. So, if we compare the regional balance in Europe back then and now, then, indeed, the situations are similar, – Mikhail Alexandrov, Military and Political Research Centre of MGIMO expert says. – But not in the world context, because the English and the American were our partners and somewhat helped. Only from military-political point of view. But from military-strategic point of view – the situation now is much more in favour of Russia. Now we have an ensured military parity with the West, which we didn’t have prior to WW2. In my opinion, we could, in principle, deal with the West on our own, with massive losses of course. Also, currently we have China and Iran, we can count on Indian neutrality.
Svpress: Do you agree with American professor’s thesis that today’s crisis between Russia and NATO is more dangerous than in 1962?
-I’ll put it this way: today the situation is remeniscent of what happened then. Let’s say, when the Turks shot down a Russian frontline bomber Su-24M in Syria, we were balancing on the edge of the knife – next Turkish political or military action could result in obliteration of Turkey. If we were to respond in kind and attack their military airfields, for instance, we would have started a large conflict, because Ankara would surely block the straits. Instead, Russia didn’t make a military move against Turkey, and was right to do so. We limited Turkish capabilities in Syria instead, and after that Ankara is not risking to intervene in their neighbours’ affairs anymore.
The situation is developing like a wave – an incident raises the potential for war to the 1962 level again. Let’s say Transnistria’s blockade can create this situation again. Or another Turkish action – if they’ll invade Syria while Assad’s army clears Aleppo. Or Ukraine will start a large conflict in Donbass again, and the West decides to help Kiev militarily.
However, vice-director of Political and Military Analysis Institute Alexander Khramchikhin thinks that professor Cohen is comparing incomparable.
-To be honest I don’t understand what does 1941 have to do with this. In relation to the numbers of the enemies it is even incomparable to the Cold War. Nowadays, NATO is deploying a battalion in the Baltics, calling it a guaranteed and powerful prevention from Russian aggression. This military build-up of NATO in Europe – complete and utter circus. But propaganda ensures that both sides of the conflict in Europe somewhat lose the adequacy in perceiving the situation. This is what is dangerous.
Currently, I, personally, see only speculations and i cannot imagine a world-scale war. Or a nuclear war. But, that is only if we don’t account for the inadequacy. Georgia 2008 – prime example. Then i wrote about how the war is not going to happen, because Tbilisi’s leadership cannot not realise what this would mean for Georgia. But, as it turned out, Saakashvili and his circles did not realise that at all – this is why i was wrong. Turkish president’s behaviour – typical case of full inadequacy. We can expect anything from him.
Svpress: Who, in your opinion can we call our friend and who – our enemy?
-I think, China is most dangerous for us. China, if we look at its development rate, cannot survive without expansion and it’s not because they are aggressive, or anything. I always write about how for the Chinese the question in the future is this: – conquest of territories and resources or collapse and civil war. Beijing doesn’t see any reason to fight with Kiev because of Moscow, it also is not going to conflict with Persian monarchies, or Turkey because of Assad, whose fate, including the fate of Syria in general, is not bothering Beijing at all. Let me remind you, that when Moscow an Ankara were on the verge of war, Beijing announced its New Silkroad project – which bypasses Russia – through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, including Ukraine later…
As it goes for Iran, i think it is our situational ally against ISIS. Yes, it is a very important ally, but only because the situation requires so. And even then – our motivations in fighting ISIS are different. This is like it was in WW2 – it was clear the Anglosaxonian leaders and Stalin hated each other, but there was a common enemy that they viewed more dangerous, that each other. There is a myth in Russia about Iran being our natural and even traditional ally. This is not the case at all. The Russian Empire fought the Persians no less than 6 times, those war tough and lengthy wars. In 1941 USSR and UK occupied Iran because it took an actively pro-German stance. Postwar Iran after the return of their monarchy, was one of USA’s and UK’s top allies, and when the USSR fought in Afghanistan it was actively supporting the rebels.
In my opinion, we have no allies, apart from Abhasia and South Ossetia. But, we need to draw a line between an ally and a client – a rather philosophical question. This is the question that only Russia and USA are faced with in the world. The Americans are sure, that the world is full of their allies – in reality, those are their clients. And it will be curious to see the actions of their strategic allies, if the States were in critical condition. The alliance problem follows all large nations that are trying to build their influence spheres, because it is hard to say just how honest and sincere their relationships are.