Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Russian Threat

Russia doesn't have the military power to be a threat to everyone along their western borders at the same time, but they do have options to be threats on a narrow front along a wider region.

The Romanian ambassador to the United States notes the linkage between the conquest of Crimea and Russia's operations in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean Sea:

Crimea is being used more and more as a platform for power projection in the Black Sea. And even further, in the eastern Mediterranean, with certain ramifications toward Syria.

I've said that the Russian conquest of Crimea made power projection to Syria and the eastern Mediterranean Sea more effective and that the operation in Syria to defend bases in that country justify the conquest of Crimea:

Russia is beefing up their bases in Russian-occupied Crimea. This will allow Russia to exert power and influence against Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia. I'd throw in Turkey, too, but Turkey might be bending to Russian power as a favor to a fellow autocrat as Turkey dismantles rule of law, which would then allow Russia to exert power and influence in the eastern Mediterranean in concert with bases in Syria.

Indeed, I highlighted the linkage before Russia invaded Crimea:

Pushing Russia away from the Black Sea--should Russia lose their bases in Crimea if Ukraine doesn't want them there any more--in the long run makes Russian operations in the Mediterranean much more difficult. That would make their help for Syria a bit more difficult and deprive Russia of some leverage in Egypt.

They are not separate issues even if I don't suspect the operations are part of a coherent single policy.

Just a fact of geography that leads Russia to push forward a defense screen to guard Russia from the southwest direction.

So I'd watch Turkey very closely to see if they are wobbly on NATO.

Romania is of course key to bolstering NATO operations in the Black Sea and keeping Russia from pushing through Ukraine to the gates of NATO in the Balkans.

Romania is committed to maintaining the NATO 2% of GDP defense spending goal.