Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Beginning of Wisdom?

I might be making too much of this statement, but is this an admission by Putin that he made a mistake in aggressively confronting NATO?

"I hope (an improvement in ties) also takes place. At any rate, we are ready for it. I think the ball is in the Americans' court," Putin was quoted as saying by Interfax.

We do have a basis for improving ties.

We should not be opponents given the reasons we both have for focusing on a rising China. Russia, especially, shouldn't be stirring up trouble with a NATO that poses no threat to Russia while China looms over Russia's Far East that Russia gained from China in the 19th century. We speak of how old China's civilization is. So how far ago do you believe the Chinese think that loss was? Long enough to write it off as "ancient history?" I don't think so.

Yes, America would like to be able to focus more on China than Russia, but this is on the margins. Our efforts in Europe start farther east now, away from the vital core of Europe; and our efforts simply need to bolster and knit together the great military potential of NATO Europe to resist Russia. America doesn't need a force in Europe the scale of what we had in 1989 when our front line was the vital core of Europe in West Germany.

So if Russia wants a reset, I'm not against it.

But what can't happen is that Russia gets to keep what they took in Europe. Not for free.

Things out of our decisions might be that Ukraine and Georgia sell most of the land that Russia took from them for hefty payments in cash or energy for a set amount of time. Russia could give up some land in northern Crimea and to straighten out the Donbas borders and Abkhazia and South Ossetia to show the Ukrainians and Georgians that their territorial losses weren't accepted. After all, if the people in those regions want to remain in Russia, let them have it--good and hard. Besides, after years of being under Russian control, do we really want them back in the West? With either attacks for collaboration with the Russian occupiers or a fifth column inside Ukraine and Georgia stirring up trouble?

I'm not thrilled with this, but can Ukraine or Georgia actually drive the Russians out?

And Russia would then accept both states within NATO as the final price for keeping almost all of their conquests.

We could also revive the treaty on conventional forces in Europe to limit non-local troop deployments in eastern NATO; while limiting Russian troops in western Russia. This would lower the threat level each poses to the other and allow Russia to redeploy forces to hold their Central Asian influence and hold their Far East territory.

And we really need to address Russian violations of the intermediate nuclear weapons treaty. I understand that Russia needs shorter-range nukes to deter invasion. From China, for example. And it might be because the long-range nukes are too complicated for post-Soviet Russia to maintain and rely on. That's my hunch.

If we and the Russians can lower the limits on strategic (long range) nukes we both have in exchange for allowing more intermediate and short-range missiles, America could replace long-range missiles with shorter-range missiles useful for conventional and nuclear missions against China, just as Russia could do the same, no?

As for Russian bases in Syria? I couldn't care less. I didn't care before the Russo-Ukraine War and Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, and I don't care now. Russian forces in Syria would lead a short but exciting life in the eastern Mediterranean Sea if it comes to war.

Anyway, I'm extrapolating out a lot from a simple statement. Maybe Russia just wants to keep their ill-gotten gains and get the West to shut up and move on (

But maybe this Putin statement is a tacit admission of error in a tentative offer to the West to allow Russia to pivot east.

UPDATE: Mind you, Ukraine and Georgia would be morally justified in driving the Russians out of their territory. My question is whether it is worth the price.

As long as people in those regions occupied by Russia can escape to Ukraine or Georgia with the ability to rebuild their lives with one-time cash payments (perhaps that's part of the payments Russia makes for the territory), that might be in the long-term benefit of Ukraine and Georgia. Remember, it would be easier for both to join NATO if they don't have territorial disputes with Russia.