Friday, July 10, 2015

The Russians are Coming (If We Let Them)

If Russia is intent on pushing its border west on the farcical justification that weak (European) NATO is a threat to Russia, we have no choice but to at least make defeat a consideration for Putin if he continues to push west.

This sums it up:

Under the circumstances, there is no alternative to building and deploying a robust, viable and effective [NATO] conventional deterrent force in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. Such deployments, far from being a threat to Russia as Moscow as its trolls insist, is the only reliable guarantee that peace in Europe will be preserved and that Moscow cannot further exercise its imperial options in the region.

Without an effective conventional deterrent, we risk bolstering the Russian government's self-serving, paranoid belief of the simultaneous weakness and threat of the West. Since Moscow doesn't believe in the sanctity of treaties, internationally guaranteed borders, or the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors, and has disregarded most of the arms-control treaties of the last generation, a robust conventional deterrent, which rests on a heightened but realistic assessment of the Russian threat and the willingness to spend the necessary money to meet it, is not a luxury.

Because Putin's appetites began with Georgia, continue in Ukraine, include the Baltics, and have no logical end point short of the Rhine River--and perhaps Hadrian's Wall.

And while he puts it more delicately, NATO needs to make sure Putin sees more body bags coming home from Ukraine.

But I've long felt a strong ground presence in Europe is important to preserve the peace (see pg. 15--and I'll repeat, I do not have a Ph.D).

Russia is still relatively weak in conventional power--if they could have overrun large chunks of Ukraine and held it, they would have rather than endure this slow subliminal campaign--so it would be better to show them they can't push west now. Maybe Putin will decide other directions are easier to advance.

Later, as Russia rebuilds more of their conventional land power, the cost to NATO of building an effective conventional deterrent in the west will be higher.