The proverbial doomsday clock is ticking away in Europe. You can hear it getting louder each day? Just this week the Air Force Secretary Deborah James stated the U.S. considers deploying a squadron of F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Europe, in response to what the “western alliance” perceives as being stepped-up “aggression” by Russia in the region. In her stark and candid view, Russia is the “biggest threat on my mind” (m.military.com)
Geopolitical game of “Chicken Hawk”, could destabilise entire region for decades to come
Not surprisingly the Russians have responded to NATO’s military activity in and round what it considers to be “their own” sphere of influence, (an area comprising Kaliningrad on the Baltic all the way down to the Crimean peninsula on the Black sea) by boosting the country’s nuclear tactical weapons capacity (bbc.com) Predictably NATO sees this as provocative gesture. “This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified, it’s destabilising and it’s dangerous,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg this week in response to Moscow’s move. It’s classic “tit for tat”.
But who are the real aggressors in this stand off? Is it NATO-US, or Russia?
Is anyone in Brussels, Washington or Moscow for that matter asking themselves this question? It seems not. As tensions rise fingers on the nuclear bottom are getting fidgety.
Meanwhile, NATO appears to be hunkering down (stockpiling weaponry and sending infantry divisions, to its most eastern member states). Does this mean it’s digging in for the haul long, or a prolonged period of goading Russia on its doorstep (the Kaliningrad enclave)? In other words, is NATO breathing down the Russian bear’s back for the sake of strengthening an increasingly divided and disparate alliance? In my view that is the real reason for this entire anti-Russian hullabaloo. NATO is, despite the razzmatazz and “all for one for all” rhetoric is internally weak. And it needs an exterior foe to keep it untied.
Historically speaking, these military manoeuvres and geo-strategic counter measures might remind some of us of earlier cold war antics. The current dangerous posturing between two former superpowers brings us back to the 1980s. Tensions between the US and Russia haven’t been this high since the “1983 Euro-Missile crisis”
Poland and the Baltic States are “Crying Wolf!
NATO’s newest member states in the Baltic and not so new (like Poland) are brazenly grandstanding, or drawing attention to their imaginary perilous plight , in the hope of creating a permanent garrison of foreign troops on their territory ( or a military re-occupation of sorts, only this time by the west). For its part, NATO’s expansionist project has soured overall relations. US-Russian bi-lateral ties are at their lowest ebb too,despite recent but rather lame attempts at reviving them. ( And another “reset” isn’t in the cards.
How bad is it? One expert in the field writes: “It is unrealistic at the moment to expect a speedy improvement of U.S.-Russia relations. This is regrettable, but it is a fact: The relations between the two countries today may be even worse than during Soviet times — a really disturbing development”. washingtontimes.com. June 14, 2015
What does this mean geo-politically for Europe? More militarization of the continent and more instability too. But most worrisome of all, the on-going stand off between Russia and the West, will makes those fingers on the nuclear bottom more fidgety. And the clock ticks faster in Europe.
Michael Werbowski, is a Vienna ( Austria) based geopoltical and global affairs analyst and a graduate of post-communist studies ( Univerisity of Leeds, UK)