As Russia continues its drive for a great reboot of its lopsided relationship with the West, the USA and its allies are still waiting to see what Moscow’s next move will be.
On the surface, unsophisticated intransigence dominates. In essence, the Western general line goes, we are ready to talk but not about any of the things that really matter and Moscow wants the most.
Which is stopping NATO expansion and, in effect, neutralizing Ukraine. Spreading dis-information about Russian coup plans for Kiev – plans that no one there seems to know about or take seriously.
Instead, the West is sending more military forces to eastern Europe, pumping up Kiev with arms and war advisors, making noises about supporting an insurgency to trap Russia in a quagmire if it should invade in force.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, says the time has come to make a transition to offensive actions, disturbingly implying that he may be ready to start a major escalation, perhaps in the self-defeating style of former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili in 2008.
The difference would, of course, be in the fact that the West has allowed itself to become much more badly entangled with Kiev than it ever did with Tbilisi.
Where the Georgian leadership fortunately failed to wag the dog and drag the West into its war, a Ukrainian bid to do the same cannot be excluded and, worse, might work.
In this apparently deadlocked and increasingly risky power play, in theory the West still has the greater assets. America’s decision to deploy approximately 3,000 soldiers to Romania, Poland, and Germany is proof that Moscow is right to be concerned about Russia’s security.
Given the current level of neo-Cold War scaremongering, it may be hard to recall, but if push came to shove, a fully mobilized NATO would have more firepower and economic depth than Russia. Yet Moscow has three real advantages, too.
First, while it does not command the same total resources as the West, it has enough to be a formidable opponent. Its nuclear weapons essentially counter-balance those of the West.
Both sides can terribly cripple or entirely destroy the other; neither can be certain to survive cornering the other too much.
Russia’s conventional forces, meanwhile, are powerful enough to threaten the West with local defeat, as Western planners sometimes acknowledge.
Of course, some of these warnings are neo-Cold War mobilizing talk to impress the public and, last but not least, angle for more defense spending. Yet it would be foolish to underestimate the reality of Russian military resurgence.
At the very least, Moscow has the capacity to impose a war of great sacrifice and cost. Fighting Russia would not be a one-sided slaughter like Iraq or Libya, against hopelessly inferior opponents, but a mutual pounding that would test will and morale on both sides.
There is no telling who would stand up better to it. But underestimating Russian soldiers has never been a good idea. France and Germany do not start a war against Russia.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2022.