Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Russia Made a Choice to Be Feared

I've long wanted Russia to stop their pointless prodding of NATO that is only making the larger military alliance view Russia more as a potential enemy than as a potential partner. Is Russia capable of choosing not to be a pain when both of us have reason to settle differences to focus on coping with China?

Secretary of Defense Mattis is right about the situation in Europe:

The challenge of Russia is that Russia, from NATO's perspective, has more in common with NATO in terms of its future. But try as we might, trying to make common cause with Russia has been exceedingly difficult.

And 2014 was a watershed year. They have not lived up to the Minsk Agreement, and we tried to resolve the events of 2014. We have Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty issues with Russia.

We -- again, we look for, where can we collaborate, where can we dialogue with Russia? And by Russia's choice, we have not found that to be fruitful.

NATO will never turn off dialogue with Russia. NATO will never turn its back on trying to make better relations with Russia. But when we see what has gone on in the American elections and some European elections certainly, when we see other aspects of the Russians changing borders in Europe through the force of arms, then NATO has to respond. That's when democracies unify, and recognize they must have a NATO fit for its time. So we're working back from that.

We have to guard against Russia doing something stupid and aggressive while hoping that the paranoid fever raging in the Kremlin dies out.

Nobody in NATO wants to invade Russia. And if Russia is worried about the example of Western democracy on Russians who live under Putin's autocracy, the solution isn't to stoke military confrontation with the West in the belief that Moscow can fine tune it so precisely that it keeps a foreign threat alive enough to keep Russians in line; while not doing so much to make NATO an actual military threat.

Russia is starting to fail with that balancing act. Can they recover and make a better choice?