Russia: More Dangerous Than Before

Russia is off to a bad start in 2015. It’s suffering from a currency crisis brought on by a combination of economic sanctions, free-fall decline in the price of oil, and economic stagnation. Its actions in Ukraine have made friends such as Belarus somewhat nervous while states in Eastern Europe such as Poland are rallying against an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable Kremlin. Like the old saying, an animal is most dangerous when cornered and wounded and this can be applied to Russia. Add to this equation the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains immensely popular despite economic setbacks, there is little reason to believe Russia will suddenly change its ways.

In what is now almost completely ignored by the news media, the conflict in Ukraine is raging as the December ceasefire at the time of this writing has all but collapsed. The battle to hold onto Donetsk airport has turned into a sought of Stalingrad for Ukraine; loss of it would imply not only weakness of the military but of the government which would be a disaster for morale and resolve. As Putin and subordinates continue to deny Russian military involvement, Russian troops and military hardware continue to flow across the border. Russia is now in a better position to support (launch) an offensive towards Mariupol and Crimea than they were last summer. While such an action would be risky for Russia, little has served to stop them so far. The prospect of severe interstate conflict between Ukraine and Russia is something that no longer can be regarded as impossible.

Next door to Ukraine is Moldova and the unrecognized Russian-backed state of Transnistria. While Russia doesn't border either, this is not stopping the Kremlin from involving itself in local affairs. This year Moldova is deepening its expansion with the EU or so it is planned. Russia would be happy to see this not occur and there are reports of Russian involvement in Moldovan political circles while in Transnistria, the ruling government is calling for integration with Russia. While Russia is engaged elsewhere, the status quo with Transnistria will continue for some time as Russia can only get to Transnistria through west Ukraine and it is not a priority. This though can suddenly change.

Meanwhile the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which were subjugated by Russia for the better part of the second half of the 20th century, are seen by some as the next targets of Putin. Estonia and Latvia have sizeable Russian populations and the Kremlin has voiced concern over what it perceives are actions taken by the governments for those states to diminish the power of their Russian populations such as changing language requirements for official purposes or renaming streets. All NATO and EU members, one might assume that Russia would never dare to attack any of these states though Russia is conducting subversive actions in them.

This is but a small taste of hotspots involving Russia. Why is Russia so dangerous now? Russia can act in any of these areas if it so decides to despite the enormous risks. Events over the past few years have shown Russia to be unpredictable, adventurous, and dangerous. In 2008 I and many others were taken aback by Russia's actions in Georgia; what happened was always seen as possible though the actual occurrence was still somewhat shocking. We all said Russia would work to disrupt Ukraine and its moves to the west but the thought of actual combat between the two seemed almost unfathomable. Well I and many other far greater policy-makers and academics were proven wrong.

Russia right now is in economic decline. One though can't expect a charismatic and popular leader like Putin to just suddenly back down to western pressure. Russia has been pushed into a corner but shows no signs of giving up, in fact it is more willing to lash out. Each week Russian aircraft violate the airspaces of western countries or make provocative moves. Each week there are more signs of Russian subversive activities in neighboring states. The unpredictability of Russia, its aggressiveness, and desire of its leader to restore the country to its former glory paint a worrying picture of things to come.

Posted by SPBrooker at January 20, 2015 3:51 PM
Comment #387539

China’s Shanghai futures market crashed by the maximum 10 percent, and trading was suspended on January 19th, while Shanghai Composite Index fell by 7.7 percent. Both events were the worst day of trading since shortly after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy launched the financial crisis six years ago.
Posted by: Weary Willie at January 20, 2015 6:19 PM
Comment #387541

From the SOTU last night:

“Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

That’s how America leads not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”

Russia has always been a dangerous country however mostly just for the Russian people. There is only so much riding topless and bareback on a horse can do for someone and Putin might be reaching that threshold. Time will tell. He is not the first despot that they have had to deal with.

Posted by: Speak4all at January 21, 2015 11:49 AM
Comment #387544

Obama really presented some new ideas in his SOTU address last night.

Imagine the novelty of calling for more taxes, more spending, and more entitlements from the dem party leader. Who could have possibly predicted this?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 21, 2015 3:36 PM
Comment #387548

Speak & SPBooker, do you really think that Putin is that dangerous? Why? Because our government tells us that he is?

A quick question, doesn’t Russia have a lot more to fear from us than we have from them? Especially considering how we have been antagonizing them for over a decade?

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 21, 2015 6:45 PM
Comment #387549
Russian aircraft violate the airspaces of western countries or make provocative moves. Each week there are more signs of Russian subversive activities in neighboring states.

Proof? Any links at all would be nice… just saying what the Government says (because our government never ever lies to us) just isn’t good enough for me.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 21, 2015 6:49 PM
Comment #387558

I don’t believe I expressed any sentiment of Putin being dangerous other than to the Russian people.

I do like the fact that President Obama has decided to try to start relations with Cuba now though. This seems like a snub of Putin’s interpretation of his influence in the western hemisphere. Putin responded by sending a Russian spy ship into Havana harbor (talk about cold war tactics). Putin has demonstrated his inability to keep his sphere of influence relevant and President Obama has played on that masterfully. I am anxious to see how our relations with Cuba will progress. Our current relationship with Cuba is a left over from the cold war and I find it interesting that Putin responded to our advances to Cuba with a cold war tactic. The man does not understand that he is being played.

Posted by: Speak4all at January 22, 2015 9:39 AM
Comment #387561
Putin responded by sending a Russian spy ship into Havana harbor (talk about cold war tactics).

Do you think that the US doesn’t have spyships in Havana harbor, or surrounding Russia as well?

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 22, 2015 1:57 PM
Comment #387563

We have spy ships in a lot of different places and we will continue to have them in a lot of different places.

I can remember being in the Mediterranean Sea when the USS Liberty was attacked. As a member of the service and as someone who served in the communications department of an aircraft carrier that served as the flagship, we all knew that this was what was referred to as a communications monitoring ship which we now call a spy ship. That was not published at the time just as now their whereabouts are not published.

To make the Russian spy ship visible in the port of Havana to me seemed as inept response to the US intention of improving relations with Cuba. We knew long before that ship pulled in to Havana where it was and what it was doing. Putin is out of his league in trying to deal with our President and I think he is beginning to realize that.

Posted by: Speak4all at January 22, 2015 2:15 PM
Comment #387610

The Castro’s really need some ‘real’ money. no rubles, no spekee da ruski, and so on - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at January 26, 2015 6:06 PM
Comment #390718

jordan 11 gamma blue

Posted by: dongdong at March 20, 2015 10:08 PM
Post a comment