Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cold War II: Russia vs NATO

The cold war we are now seeing between Russia and the U.S. continues to escalate:

NATO is using the situation in Ukraine to push closer to Russia's border, according to the Russian deputy defense minister. He says the Alliance's activities have expanded considerably over the past years.
In their push, Anatoly Antonov says Allied forces are ignoring diplomacy.

"We've noticed that NATO member states are using the situation in southeastern Ukraine as a pretext to discard all diplomatic conventions, tricks and slogans and push forward, closer to the Russian border."

According to the minister, what NATO is doing is completely out of proportion with what NATO commanders call the build-up of Russian forces on its side of the border in Ukraine. "NATO's activities are many times greater than Russia's." 

All of this is being done to restrain Russia and punish it for refusing to play along with rules set by the West, according to the official. 

"Instead of uniting forces to fight evil, the worst of which is terrorism, Western nations are drawing new divisive lines, trying to realize containment schemes against unwelcome states. Today, Russia has been chosen as the target."

He added that NATO currently can’t be considered the pillar of world freedom and security it is cracked up to be. 

All this doesn’t bode well for relations between the US and Russia, Antonov said. 

"Throughout my military and diplomatic career, I haven't seen another period when Russian-American relations have been so difficult."

The US is sending 600 paratroopers to Ukraine by the end of this week. US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster announced this at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday. 

The forces will stay there for six months, with the stated goal of training the Ukrainian National Guard. However, the operation could grow bigger.

The push to give lethal aid to Kiev is sparking concern in Moscow, especially "in light of the rather successful implementation of ceasefire agreements reached on February 12," the Foreign Ministry says.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Russia to live up to the Ukraine peace agreement it backed in Minsk last month or face tougher sanctions. She said the EU stands ready to impose new measures if needed.

Merkel told reporters that the immediate task at hand was to stop the bloodletting in eastern Ukraine, where a fragile ceasefire is largely holding despite some violations since the Minsk agreement signed in February.

She underlined that "if Minsk doesn't work, then the member states and the European Commission are quite prepared to take tougher sanctions."

When imposing sanctions on Russia, the United States hoped they will affect the life quality of Russians, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev said Wednesday.
"It is evident that the White House hoped for a sharp deterioration of the Russians’ quality of life and mass protests," Patrushev said.
"[But] Russia has accumulated a sufficient reserve of economic, financial and - the main thing - political strength, it has solidarity and support on the part of foreign partners, including in the framework of most multilateral formats," he said.
Commenting on the results of his working trips to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Patrushev said "attempts to influence our states from outside do not stop." He said the US itself calls such attempts "efforts to improve the democratic situation."
"China and many other countries… use the term ‘color revolutions’," the official said, adding that Washington’s methods have not changed over the past few decades.
"They have been tested on the post-Soviet space, in Middle East and North African countries and other regions of the world," Patrushev said.
He said that "practically, financing of opposition forces continues under the pretext of human rights protection and the necessity to form civil society institutions."
"Simultaneously, unilateral economic sanctions are imposed. This is well seen from the example of the anti-Russian campaign launched by the United States under the pretext of the situation in Ukraine," he said.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
New large-scale punitive measures against Russia followed in September and December 2014.

 Russia's Security Council accused the United States of plotting to oust President Vladimir Putin by financing the opposition and encouraging mass demonstrations, less than a week after a protest leader was murdered near the Kremlin.
The US is funding Russian political groups under the guise of promoting civil society, just as in the "colour revolutions" in the former Soviet Union and the Arab world, council chief Nikolai Patrushev said on Wednesday. At the same time, the US is using the sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine as a "pretext" to inflict economic pain and stoke discontent, he said.
More than 50,000 people turned out in central Moscow on Sunday to mourn the death of Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy premier turned Putin opponent who was gunned down on Friday in one of the most heavily guarded areas of the capital. That was the biggest rally Russia has seen since 2011-12, when Putin was preparing to return to the presidency for a third term.
"It's clear that the White House has been counting on a sharp deterioration in Russians' standard of living, mass protests," Patrushev said. Russia can withstand the pressure, though, thanks to its resilience and "decades of experience in combating color revolutions," he said.
The Russian-backed revolt in Ukraine has led to the worst standoff between the Kremlin and the US and its European allies since the end of the Cold War. The fighting has claimed at least 6000 lives, according to the United Nations. Putin has repeatedly blamed the US for inciting the protests in Kiev last year that toppled his ally, Viktor Yanukovych.

The commander of the United States army in Europe has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking to destroy NATO, and accused Russia of having 12,000 troops inside eastern Ukraine.
Speaking to military and political leaders in Berlin, Lieutenant-General Frederick "Ben" Hodges said Russia could seek to use the sort of "hybrid warfare" seen in eastern Ukraine against a NATO member to test the alliance. "I am sure Putin wants to destroy our alliance, not by attacking it but by splintering it," he said.
He warned that Mr Putin could try to destabilise a NATO member by using a rebel militia as in eastern Ukraine, or other forms of "ambiguous" warfare.
In the absence of an overt Russian attack, some NATO members could be reluctant to invoke Article 5 of the Washington treaty, under which an attack on one member is an attack on all

"Once Article 5 is gone, our alliance is over," General Hodges said.

In Ukraine, the US strategy was to "raise the cost for President Putin" by supporting Ukrainian government forces, General Hodges said. Europe and the US have been divided over American proposals to arm Ukrainian troops.

A planned US mission to train Ukrainian troops has been put on hold to give the current peace process a chance to succeed. "If you don't believe Russia is directly involved in Ukraine now, you'll never believe it. You don't want to believe it," he said.
He accused Russia of seeking to establish control of the mouth of the Danube, which would give it a stranglehold over the economies of south-eastern Europe, and called for US tanks to be positioned in countries along NATO's eastern flank as a deterrent to Mr Putin.

The Russian military and the U.S. military are going in two very different directions.  Military spending in Russia is increasing by a whopping 33 percent this year alone, and the Russians are feverishly preparing as if a major war with the United States is inevitable.  But despite the fact that the conflict in Ukraine has raised tensions with Russia to Cold War levels, the Obama administration is still acting as if we were living in a “post-Cold War” era.  Even while the Russians are arming themselves to the teeth, the U.S. military is being gutted.  In fact, the U.S. Army is in the process of being cut down to the smallest size that we have seen since the end of World War II, and the U.S. Navy is already the smallest that it has been since World War I.  There is very little political debate about this gutting of our military at the moment, but someday we may look back and bitterly regret not being more prepared.
No matter what your view of U.S. foreign policy is, we should all be able to agree that the U.S. Constitution mandates that it is the job of the federal government to protect this nation.  Sadly, according to one recent report the cutbacks that are happening right now have left the U.S. military only “marginally able” to defend this country…
The US military has become so depleted by cuts that it has been left only ‘marginally able’ to defend the nation.
Decreases in the number of soldiers and naval ships have led to armed forces falling short of President Obama’s national security strategy, a report by The Heritage Foundation claimed.

When it comes to the things that really matter for national defense, corners are being cut.  For example, as I mentioned above, the U.S. Army is in the process of being reduced to the smallest size that it has been since World War II

The Quadrennial Defense Review announced last year that the Army would be cut from 570,000 soldiers to 440,000 – the fewest since World War II.
The Army historically commits 21 brigade combat teams to one war but would struggle to do this and leave reserves if there were two simultaneous conflicts, the report said.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Navy is already the smallest that is has been since World War I…

With the U.S. Navy arguably at its smallest since 1917, we don’t have many ships that are actually at sea. Only 35% of the Navy’s entire fleet is deployed, fewer than 100 ships.

But that is not all.  According to Stars and Stripes, the size of the U.S. Air Force is going to shrink by about 500 planes over the next five years…

For much more on how the U.S. military is being gutted, please see my previous article entitled “The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Military“.
At the same time all of this is going on, Russia is acting as if they knew that World War III was right around the corner.
According to CNN, the Russians plan to spend more than 20 trillion rubles to modernize their military by the year 2025…

Russia has begun investing heavily in upgrades to its military capabilities. President Vladimir Putin plans to spend more than 20 trillion rubles ($700 billion) bringing equipment up to date by 2025.
The modernization program is continuing despite an economic crisis that has already forced Russia to adopt an austerity budget for next year.

Even while the U.S. military is shrinking, the Russian military is getting larger.  The following infographic was published by TASS, and it shows some of the new equipment that the Russian military will be receiving by the end of this year…

So why are the Russians conducting such a massive military buildup?
Certainly the civil war in Ukraine is on their minds.  If there was a civil war up in Canada, the U.S. government would definitely be freaking out.  So it is understandable that the Russians are deeply concerned about what is happening to their neighbor.
But this military buildup by the Russians suggests that there is something more going on.
And I think that we can get a clue by looking at how the Russian military has been behaving.
For instance, the Russian air force recently conducted a drill which simulated an attack on NATO warships in the Black Sea

Russian fighter jets are practicing attacking NATO ships in the Black Sea in another dramatic sign that tensions over Ukraine continue to build despite a fragile ceasefire agreed last month.
“Russia’s newest Su-30 fighter jets and Su-24 attack bombers are using two NATO ships in the Black Sea to practice penetrating anti-air systems,” reports Sputnik, citing a source at the Sevastopol naval base.
Asserting that the NATO ships are conducting drills based around “repelling air attacks,” Moscow is taking the opportunity to practice “maneuvering and conducting aerial reconnaissance” outside the range of the ships in order to “practice attack scenarios”.

It is being reported that Russian Strategic Missile Forces are planning to conduct more than 100 drills in 2015.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration is treating the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal as if it was an unwanted leftover from an era that is long gone.
I have written much more about this in the past, and I will not repeat all of it here.  If you would like to dig even deeper into all of this, please see my previous article entitled “10 Signs That Russia Is Preparing To Fight (And Win) A Nuclear War With The United States“.
To most Americans, a war with Russia is not even a remote possibility.
But there is a much, much different mindset inside Russia these days.
During one recent military parade, a large missile was paraded through the streets with a message to Barack Obama written on the side.  Roughly translated, the message says “to be personally delivered to Obama”…

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