American Elephants


Meanwhile, Back at The Russian Yearning For Empire: by The Elephant's Child

Vladimir-Putin-007

From Bill Gertz at the Free Beacon:

Moscow violated a key strategic nuclear arms accord by developing a ground-launched cruise missile banned under the 1987 agreement, according to the State Department.

“The United States has determined that the Russian federation is in violation of its obligations under the [Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces] Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles,” the annual arms compliance report made public Tuesday states.

The INF treaty breach, which had been kept secret by the Obama administration since 2010, is a setback for President Barack Obama’s arm-control-focused national security policies. (emphasis added)

Obama finally got around to acknowledging that Mr. Putin’s Russia  has violated the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by President Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. He sent Vladimir an angry letter. As reported by the New York Times it was written with presidential outrage, and Obama “expressed his desire for a high-level dialogue with Moscow with the aim of preserving the 1987 treaty and discussing steps the Kremlin might take to come back into compliance.”

Uh huh. I’m sure Russia is just itching to get back into compliance. Vladimir Putin also dropped by Cuba to renew the old relationship. Mr Putin wants to rebuild the old Soviet empire. He has said so. He has also said that the collapse of the Soviet empire was the greatest catastrophe in the world. Why do we always assume that when people tell us their aims, they are lying and we know better?

The Castros remain paranoid, and power-hungry as ever. They run a good business  making the island available to criminal states like Iran and North Korea. A spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet announced in August of 2013 that the Russian guided missile warship Moskva, the flagship, would visit Cuba and other ports in Central and South America. In February the Russian Defense Minister announced that Russia had engaged in talks to establish military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Does Putin really want to do the Cold War all over again?

The Obama administration clings to sanctions as the way to conflict resolution. The fundamental flaw in that way of thinking is that Putin cannot retreat, for retreating poses a real threat to his own power position at hone. After the invasion of Crimea, he has been talking up the return to empire and Russian greatness. Putin believes the West to be weak and irresolute.

The U.S. and the EU made good on their threats of dramatic sanctions on Russia. They targeted the energy, arms and finance sectors. The EU only blocked future arms business with Russia, not past deals. Obama said mildly “the issue is how do we prevent bloodshed in eastern Ukraine?” At Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden quoted the Financial Times:

One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine.  “There is a war coming in Europe,” he said. “Do you really think this matters?”

At the American Interest, Andrew A. Michta points our that the West is treating the fighting in eastern Ukraine as a specific crisis, rather than what it is:  part of Putin’s larger strategy.

None of the actions taken by the United States and Europe thus far would cost Putin more than he is willing to pay. Worse, the West’s foot-dragging and disunity only confirm Putin in his judgment that he remains in control, while also deepening his disdain for the West. Even if the West were to get its wish and Putin were to agree today to a ceasefire and negotiations, he would retain both de facto control of eastern Ukraine and the option to recommence hostilities at will. He would, in effect, get the West to do part of his work for him.

What Putin wants is fairly clear. What he will actually do about it is not. The adventurism in Cuba and South America is probably intended to distract us with events in our backyard, and the alliances make Russia seem more important? They’re a little short on friendly alliances.




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