This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Russia/NATO -- Restive Times

"[The United States] is not thinking about doing two [combat battalion leaderships in eastern Europe]."
"We're planning to do one and get our allies to step up [for the others]."
Douglas E. Lute, American ambassador to NATO

"[NATO is undertaking the deployment of] the biggest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War."
"I know the mood in Washington and I understand it: The Americans want to see the Europeans doing more, contributing more."
"[NATO must be prepared to deploy conventional means but NATO] remains a nuclear alliance [with deterrence meant to be] seamless [ranging from response to cyberattacks through to conventional weapons and if the situation demands, nuclear weapons." 
"...As long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, we have to remain a nuclear alliance."
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general

Impossible, and as fear-inducing as it is, nuclear weapons being brought into engagement as a 'deterrence' is being discussed by two sides to a stand-off. Where Moscow has been enhancing its military capabilities by the introduction of new advanced weapons systems and the refurbishing of its military might, its president has also ruminated on the issue of nuclear power as a deterrent. Tactical nuclear weapons arming Russian submarines can only be seen as a message of intent, of last resort, of what could happen if it is pushed too far.

Or should the Kremlin feel endangered at the prospect of NATO, for example wanting to teach an unforgettable lesson of explosive one-upsmanship. That might seem the most far-fetched potential to any mind in the West but Russia under Vladimir Putin has grown increasingly volatile and paranoid. Its near-abroad has been colonized by the interfering West despite a gentleman's agreement that NATO would give eastern Europe a wider berth, which became rather complicated when Russia began agitating its neighbours.

A Russian intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry four miniaturized nuclear warheads was paraded through Red Square in Moscow last May. Credit Kirill Kudryavsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Russian aggression in Moldova, in Georgia and in Ukraine in expanding Greater Russia to resemble a wan reflection of the glory days of the Soviet Union has made its Baltic neighbours increasingly concerned over further incursions of a resurgent Russia. And NATO, as it has been mandated to do, has responded in defense of its members. Western Europe is less interested in building its defences and its arsenals, however. Somewhat leaving the United States in its traditional dilemma as chief assurance of security.

It is a role that has palled on the United States under the Obama administration, and in fact, is reflected increasingly in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Russia's swaggering aggression in Ukraine and its military deployment in Syria coming to the aid of Bashar al-Assad have gained it glory at home and suspicion elsewhere. Leading NATO to respond to its concerned members in Europe who want the protection but not to have to make the investment themselves.

Unusual times call for extraordinary measures, and NATO is looking at strengthening its collective defence substantially, with an ambitious goal of establishing four combat battalions of up to a thousand soldiers in each of the countries bordering Russia; a plan certain to extract maximum outrage from the Kremlin. So far three of those leadership battalions have been agreed to, from the United States, Germany and Britain. Canada has been invited to provide the fourth, but has not yet responded.

Both Romania and Poland have become the sites for ballistic missile defense systems. NATO is reassuring its nervous members in the east of Europe that the alliance they depend upon for their security will deliver its promise of collective defense. Naval exercises in the Black Sea and overflights by reconnaissance aircraft are a part of that assurance of readiness to respond. If the concern of potential aggression and response were restrained to conventional techniques the tension is bearable.

But some NATO nations believe that Russia has placed nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea. As though to exploit the fear it might be furious enough to use them, should its territorial aggression be met with a sizeable force determined to halt any such advance in internationally illegal territoriality.
Nuclear-powered submarines at a base in Russia’s Murmansk region. Moscow has increased submarine patrols in the past year. Credit Lev Fedoseyev/TASS, via Getty Images

"With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads."
Vladimir V. Putin

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