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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2964

Russia vs West: Sabre-rattling goes nuclear – what’s next?

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

The US defence authorities confirmed on Tuesday that they would deploy 250 tanks, along with more military hardware, in several East European countries, which once belonged to the Soviet Union. The countries in question, according to the US, are under the threat of what they call Russian aggression.

Understandably, Russia reacted in anger and as expected, didn’t hide its resolve to hit back with counter-measures. In an ominous development, President Putin said earlier this week that Russia would add 40 new ICBMs – Inter Continental Ballistic Missile – to its nuclear arsenal – hardly a step in controlling the nuclear arms race.

The members of the NATO are ganging up against what they collectively callhybrid warfare launched by Russia. The Eastern European countries, according the NATO, are on the Russian radar consist of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.

By definition, hybrid warfare takes place in the Eastern European countries with significant Russian minorities. They seem to be acting independently on the surface – but with fully Russian backing in terms of moral and of course, material support.

The latest sabre-rattling is somewhat puzzling, thought. A few weeks ago, John Kerry, the Secretary of State, talked in conciliatory terms while raising the hopes of bridging the widening gap between Russia and the West. President Putin’ nuclear threat and the determination of the US defence secretary to deploy more military hardware in the Eastern European nation, however, blew that scenario apart.

In the past, we have seen quite a few occasions when the Pentagon and the State Department didn’t see eye to eye. The latest US stand on Russia does not seem to be stemming from a united front at the core administrative level.

Military analysts are not impressed with the impact of 250 tanks – and other hardware – deployed against a geographically-giant neighbour with a deadly nuclear arsenal full of inter-continental ballistic missiles. They are in the opinion that meaningless symbolic measures do more harm than good, when the NATO keep expressing the hope of a diplomatic ‘breakthrough’ at the same time.

Seeking Piece



Programmed by Hemantha Abeywardena

The Independent, meanwhile, reported a statement made by Lt Gen Stephen Wilson, a top US nuclear commander, in London, while comparing the moves by President Putin with those of Hitler. Lt Gen Wilson, who is full aware of ground realities, seems to prefer a diplomatic breakthrough to tit-for-tat sabre-rattling: he has cited the shrinking man power of the army, aging nuclear arsenal and of course, the cost of maintaining the status-quo. In this context, the requirement of man power contribution from the East European nations in order to complement the US hardware contribution is understandable.

In the middle of growing tension, the dangerous manoeuvres in the international air space show no sign of abating either. Russia is often accused of flying aircrafts with transponders turned off – for obvious reasons – which could potentially trigger off an unpleasant scenario, something from which backing down will be extremely hard – without really harming the egos on both sides.

In short, Russian and the West are sleepwalking towards a point-of-no-return, as ‘dethroning’ President Putin is extremely unrealistic given that his popularity of is steadily on the rise and his political influence shows no sign of being on the wane, despite severe economic sanctions and falling oil price that pushed Russian economy to the wall.

Neither the market economy nor the democracy, despite its flaws, managed to bring Russia – the East - and the West together in a way that the assimilation would be seamless. On the contrary, there seems to be a mysterious factor at work that overrules the will of political masters on both sides in order to make the two as politically distinct as possible by the same inevitable dualism that bisects nature into a series of pairs: good-bad; man-woman; inhale-exhale, day-night etc!

- Asian Tribune -

Russia vs West: Sabre-rattling goes nuclear – what’s next?
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