Felgenhauer on the new Cold War

Writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, the always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer describes Medvedev’s participation in Russia’s provocation of a new cold war with NATO, and a new arms race:

At the end of August President Dmitry Medvedev announced five foreign policy priorities. The first and third points are benign: Russia will “recognize the fundamental principles of international law” and “does not want confrontation with any other country” nor does it intend to isolate itself. The other three state, first, that Russia does not accept the current world order, which Medvedev calls “single-pole,” as it is “unstable and threatened by conflict.” Medvedev declared, “The world must be multi-polar.” Second, Russia claimed the right as an “unquestionable priority” to “protect the lives and dignity of our citizens” as well as its interests “wherever they may be.” Finally, Medvedev claimed, “there are regions in which Russia has privileged interests,” an apparent reference to a geographically unspecified sphere of interests, that obviously includes Georgia, Ukraine, and other neighboring nations in Europe and Asia (www.kremlin.ru, August 31).

In accordance with Russian bureaucratic tradition, Medvedev’s statement is in effect the country’s foreign policy doctrine short and clear. Medvedev added that the future of international relations depended on “our friends and partners” that “have a choice” to recognize Russia’s rights and privileges. In August Russian troops invaded neighboring Georgia and occupied part of its territory. Russian military action in Georgia followed Medvedev’s foreign policy doctrine: It was aimed against U.S. dominance in the Caucasus, it was an action within Russia’s “region of privileged interests,” and it was claimed to have been undertaken in defense of Russian citizens and interests.

Last week Medvedev proceeded by announcing a short and clear defense doctrine in line with the foreign policy one. The defense doctrine also came in five principles. First, the organizational structure and deployment of troops would be enhanced. All combat units had to achieve “permanent readiness status” by 2020. Second, the efficiency of command and control systems in the Armed Forces would be improved. Without this, “it is impossible to count on success in today’s wars and other armed conflicts.” Third, the system of military education and personnel training would be modernized. Fourth, procuring the most modern weapons was a “high priority.” Russia needed “fundamentally new, high-technology weapons.” Fifth, military pay would increase, housing would improve, and the social problems of the Armed forces would be addressed.

Medvedev stressed that “These five factors will determine the battle-readiness of our Armed Forces. By 2020 we must guarantee the continued capacity of nuclear deterrence in various military and political situations, while rearming the troops with new types of weapons and means of gathering intelligence.” Medvedev said, “We must achieve air superiority in conducting precision strikes on land and sea targets, as well as in troop mobility.” First of all new warships armed with nuclear cruise missiles would be built, as well as attack submarines. A joint air-space defense system would also be built, he announced (www.kremlin.ru, September 26).

Medvedev presented his military doctrine to a gathering of army top brass at the Donguz military base in the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan during strategic military exercise “Stability-2008” (see EDM, September 25). It was announced in Donguz that Stability-2008 was the largest military exercise in 20 years since the end of the Cold War. Maneuvers of units on land, sea, and in the air, both in Russia and on the high seas, began on September 1, will last over 2 months, and involve some 50,000 solders (RIA-Novosti, September 26). The scenario of Stability-2008 is of a local conflict escalating into an all-out air, sea, and land war between Russia and the West that in turn escalates into a global nuclear conflict with the United States. Recalling the war with Georgia, Medvedev stressed, “We have seen that an absolutely real war can erupt suddenly; and simmering local conflicts, which are sometimes even called ‘frozen,’ can turn into a real military firestorm” (www.kremlin.ru, September 26).

It is clear today that Russian military staffs on orders from the Kremlin preplanned the invasion of Georgia in August under the cover of military exercises Kavkaz-2008. In addition, massive strategic reinforcements were mobilized for a possible escalation of hostilities in case Washington offered Tbilisi assistance and became directly involved in the fray. It seems that in August-September 2008 we were, as during the Cold War, once again close to a possible armed conflict. Today the massive Russian military potential, mobilized for possible all-out war that did not happen, is being used in the Stability-2008 exercises.

This week Medvedev told top military commanders in the Kremlin that outside hostile forces “will not forgive” Russia’s actions against Georgia, “but we must not be distressed; this was expected.” Medvedev believes, “Russia must be big and strong, or it will not exit at all” and greedy foreigners will grab its riches. “The old world order was shattered in August,” Medvedev told his military chiefs. “A new one is emerging more secure and just,” based on Russian actions in Georgia (www.kremlin.ru, September 30). The new brave world has arrived, according to the Kremlin. Russia needs new nukes and air superiority to survive “big and strong.”

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3 responses to “Felgenhauer on the new Cold War

  1. Cluebat from Exodar

    It is clear that Russia has launched the aggression in Georgia under the cover of military exercises.

    Accordingly all Russian military exercises should be considered as threatening and responded to with defensive maneuvers of our own. Including false or cancelled manuevers which would put a strain on their treasury.

    It is expensive to move military assets around.

  2. Radio Free Europe had an interesting article: “NATO Commander Seeks Defense Plans For Baltic States ” (source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Article/1294790.html). At least the generals understood the danger and want to plan accordingly. However, this request has once again demonstrated the divide in Europe and NATO:

    “The United States and Britain strongly back contingency plans for the Baltic countries. A senior U.S. official said in Brussels on October 7 that NATO must carry on with its “day-to-day” activities — including contingency planning.

    The British “Daily Telegraph,” which first broke the story, says Craddock recommends that Estonia, with its large Russian-speaking minority and increasingly fraught relationship with Moscow, be the first Baltic beneficiary of a NATO military risk-assessment study.

    But many continental European allies, led by France and Germany, feel any such move would threaten open confrontation with Russia.”

  3. Here is something to think about. The Russians have been crying that they do not want another Cold War. However, they send warships into the Caribbean, which they know is and has been a red line for the US, under the guise of exercising with Chavez. At the same time, they also claim that these maneuvers are NOT a response to US delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia via the Black Sea. So, if we are to take the Russians at their word (work with me on this), that means they planned to send warships into the Caribbean (something they have not done since the Cold War) about a year before the entire Georgia crisis kicked off and before all the Cold War talk started. They were planning to poke the US not as a reaction to something we did, but as a provocative act that would certainly be seen as hostile. Remember, according to the Russians, all this was planned before any crisis in Georgia. Either that, or the Russians have proven that they are liars once again. Either way, the truth about Russia is evident.

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