How serious is Russia’s military threat?

Introduction — May 30, 2016

The following article is one of many similar that have appeared in the Western corporate media recently. As if on cue they all echo a similar refrain: Russia and President Putin pose a threat to the West. Our comments follow.
T90s on Red Square during Victory Day 2014.

T90s on Red Square during Victory Day 2014.

How serious is Russia’s military threat?

The Week Staff — The Week May 29, 2016

What is Russia up to?

Since annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Russia has been throwing its weight around in Eastern Europe. Russian military planes and ships have been aggressively buzzing U.S. and NATO aircraft and vessels and intruding into European waters and airspace. Russian warplanes recently flew simulated attack passes at an American destroyer in the Baltic Sea, and in April, a Russian warplane did a dangerous barrel roll over an American fighter jet, passing within just 25 feet. In May, British fighter jets intercepted three Russian military transport aircraft — which could carry troops or heavy equipment — approaching NATO member Estonia and refusing to answer hails. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon described the incident as an “act of Russian aggression.” These provocative actions have occurred at the same time as Russian President Vladimir Putin has been modernizing and upgrading his military forces.

Why the upgrade?

Putin inherited a lumbering and antiquated military from the Soviet Union, along with status as a second-rate power. He wants Russia to once again become a credible counterweight to the U.S. and NATO, and protect its dominion over its traditional sphere of influence. To that end, he has spent billions on a new generation of nuclear missiles as well as new tanks and fighter jets. The Russian military plans to vastly increase its manpower too, announcing 40 new brigades by 2020, on top of the 70 brigades it already has. Whether it can deliver on that plan, though, is debatable, since the oil price slump has hit Russia hard, depriving Putin of needed revenue. But Russia has nonetheless been moving troops and weapons closer to the borders of its neighbors and NATO members. Its Black Sea Fleet, headquartered in the Crimean port of Sebastopol, recently added a dozen warships and has been sending them out on patrols near the Bulgarian, Romanian, and Turkish coasts. “The Black Sea has almost become a Russian lake,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Could Russia rival the U.S.?

There’s no chance of that. Even the top Pentagon brass — who are using Putin’s buildup to argue for greater funding — don’t believe American military supremacy is in jeopardy. The U.S. still spends nearly seven times more on defense (about $600 billion) than Russia ($84 billion), and has 19 aircraft carriers to Russia’s one. And NATO has four times Russia’s military power. Under treaties signed by recent presidents, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the two sides have approximate nuclear parity, but the U.S. has hundreds of nondeployed warheads in storage, and Russia does not. Because of these imbalances, says military analyst Daniel Gouré, Russia is relying on intimidation and unpredictable behavior, in the hope that NATO will “accept a small defeat rather than risk a big war” — the very tactic it has used in Crimea and Ukraine. To ratchet up Western fear, Russia has even suggested it would use nuclear weapons in local conflicts.

Continues … 

Comment — May 29, 2016

 The intellectual whores in the Western corporate media spin everything to wishes of the governing elite. The latest message they are spinning is that Putin’s Russia is beginning to pose a real threat to the West. That we are moving inexorably to a “new Cold War”.
Unmentioned, of course, is NATO stealthy encroachment into Russia traditional sphere of influence. Right up to its very borders in fact, in the former Soviet Republics of Lithuania and Estonia.
This is clear from the opening sentence where it baldly states that Russia had annexed the “Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea”. What it omits to mention is that weeks before Crimea had held a referendum in which more than 95% had voted to be incorporated into Russia rather than the Ukraine.
Without even mentioning this the above propaganda piece, for that’s what it is, echoes exactly the sort of thing we once heard about Saddam Hussein and more recently Iran.
Thus the above article claims that:
“Russian military planes and ships have been aggressively buzzing U.S. and NATO aircraft and vessels…”
What it omits to mention however is that those U.S. and NATO “aircraft and vessels” were military and often only a few miles from Russia’s borders.
As the above article illustrates, Russia is increasingly being portrayed as the bad guy. That can only mean one thing. As with Iraq in 1990 and Iran a few years ago, it suggests that the elite are seriously considering instigating a conflict between Russia and the West.
The tell-tale signs that a potential conflict is looming are articles like the above, which are now appearing throughout the Western media. Without wishing to sound alarmist, I would suggest that the Western public is being primed for potential military conflict with Russia. Ed.

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