US Foreign Policy Towards Russia Revives Cold War

What could the Obama administration be thinking? The eastward expansion of NATO over the years alarmed Russian leaders, but cooperation between the US and Russia continued to grow. That is until the US and the EU tried to place the Ukraine firmly under western control.

Nuclear missiles
Nuclear missiles

With Obama, the provocation of the Russians reached a new level. One the Russians under Putin will not ignore. Doesn’t anyone in the Obama administration know the history of the Ukraine? That it was part of Russia for 500 years? That it is clearly viewed as a buffer nation, one that the Russians will not tolerate as a member of NATO. Whatever you may think of Putin, he is a clever, tough, and yes, ruthless leader. It is not wise to demonize such a man and to underestimate his ability.

According to the US, Russia is being isolated from the world community and punished by crippling sanctions. Let’s get real here. Sanctions have hurt the Russian economy, but have fueled Russian’s pivot to the east and to nations the world over who see Russia as a more dependable ally than the bullying US. Russia is busy building its own powerful group of trading partner nations including China, Iran, India, Brazil, and Egypt.

US policies of demonizing Russia and President Putin are dangerous. Especially since we had a heavy hand in organizing and financing a coup that overthrew a duly elected Ukrainian President to be replaced by our puppet, Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko. Picking a fight with a nuclear armed Russia over a nation within their sphere of influence is risky business that only Neocons could want.

Nuclear Specter Returns: ‘Threat of War Is Higher than in the Cold War’

By Markus Becker in Munich

The Ukraine crisis has dramatically worsened relations between NATO and Russia. With cooperation on nuclear security now suspended and the lack of a “red telephone,” experts at the Munich Security Conference warn any escalation in tensions could grow deadly.

The scientists had no idea that their experiment could spell the end of civilization. On Jan. 25, 1995, Norwegian and American researchers fired a rocket into the skies of northwestern Norway to study the Northern Lights. But the four-stage rocket flew directly through the same corridor that American Minuteman III missiles, equipped with nuclear warheads, would use to travel from the United States to Moscow.

The rocket’s speed and flight pattern very closely matched what the Russians expected from a Trident missile that would be fired from a US submarine and detonated at high altitude, with the aim of blinding the Russian early-warning system to prepare for a large-scale nuclear attack by the United States. The Russian military was placed on high alert, and then President Boris Yeltsin activated the keys to launch nuclear weapons. He had less than 10 minutes to decide whether to issue the order to fire.
Yeltsin left the Russian missiles in their silos, probably in part because relations between Russian and the United States were relatively trusting in 1995. But if a similar incident occurred today, as US arms expert Theodore Postol warned recently, it could quite possibly lead to nuclear catastrophe.

Deep Mistrust

“Five or six minutes can be enough time, if you have trust, if you have communication and if you can put this machinery immediately to work,” former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on the sidelines of last weekend’s Munich Security Conference. Unfortunately, he argued, this machinery works very poorly today, and there is great mistrust.

When asked what would happen today if the 1995 missile incident happened again, Ivanov responded, “I cannot be sure if the right decision would be taken.”

Deep mistrust has developed between the West and Russia, and it is having a massive effect on cooperation on security matters.

In November 2014, the Russians announced that they would boycott the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in the United States. In December, the US Congress voted, for the first time in 25 years, not to approve funding to safeguard nuclear materials in the Russian Federation. A few days later, the Russians terminated cooperation in almost all aspects of nuclear security. The two sides had cooperated successfully for almost two decades. But that is now a thing of the past.

Instead, Russia and the United States are investing giant sums of money to modernize their nuclear arsenals, and NATO recently announced that it was rethinking its nuclear strategy. At the same time, risky encounters between Eastern and Western troops, especially in the air, are becoming more and more common, a report by the European Leadership Network (ELN) recently concluded.

“Civilian pilots don’t know how to deal with this,” explains ELN Chair Des Browne, a former British defense minister. “One of these incidents could easily escalate. We need to find a mechanism in which we can talk at the highest level.”

US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is calling for a new “red telephone” with Moscow. Zoom
REUTERS
US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is calling for a new “red telephone” with Moscow.
Brown, together with Ivanov and former US Senator Sam Nunn, a veteran of international disarmament policy, published an analysis in early February. The trio recommends “that reliable communication channels exist in the event of serious incidents.” In other words, these channels currently do not exist. Recently, Philip Breedlove, the head of NATO Allied Command Operations in Europe, even called for a new “red telephone,” alluding to the direct teletype connection established in 1963 between the United States and the Soviet Union after the Cuban missile crisis. A direct line had been set up between NATO and the Russian military’s general staff in February 2013, but it was cut as a result of the Ukraine crisis.

‘A Very Dangerous Situation’

“Trust has been eroded to the point of almost being destroyed,” said Nunn. “You got a war going on right in the middle of Europe. You got a breakdown of the conventional forces treaty, you got the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty under great strain, you got tactical nuclear weapons all over Europe. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

In late January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its “Doomsday Clock” to three minutes to midnight. The last time it was set to that time was in 1983, “when US-Soviet relations were at their iciest point,” as the group of scientists explained. The only other time when the situation was even worse was in 1953, when the clock was set to two minutes to midnight. Unchecked climate change and the “nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals” pose “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” the group’s statement read.

Read more: Nuclear Conflict

Danger in Collapse of Russia’s Economic System

The collapse of Russia’s economic system is dangerous. In an interconnected world, there are sure to be unintended consequences. The unfolding disaster brings to mind the 1998 currency crisis. It brought a lot of pain to investors worldwide.

With Putin’s and Russia’s troubles there’re dangers to the world other than economic. Putin blames the West for ganging up on Russia and imposing sanctions. Putin feels Russia has been treated badly over the Ukraine situation as the US supported coup led to the downfall of the Russian leaning duly elected President. The Ukraine was an integral part of Russia for hundreds of years. Western media, led by President Obama, have made statements Putin must feel are inaccurate and are personal attacks.

Vladimir Putin, Russian President
Vladimir Putin, Russian President

The West, especially the US and NATO members, should be more careful in its treatment of Putin. Cooperation is much safer than confrontation. Putin is not the type of man that forgives or forgets.
He blames the US and Saudi Arabia for collusion in the collapse of oil prices.

Expect Putin to find a way to even the score.

The Collapse of Putin’s Economic System

By Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov Dec 16, 2014.

The foundations on which Vladimir Putin built his 15 years in charge of Russia are giving way.

The meltdown of the ruble, which has plunged 18 percent against the dollar in the last two days alone, is endangering the mantra of stability around which Putin has based his rule. While his approval rating is near an all-time high on the back of his stance over Ukraine, the currency crisis risks eroding it and undermining his authority, Moscow-based analysts said.

The president took over from an ailing Boris Yeltsin in 1999 with pledges to banish the chaos that characterized his nation’s post-communist transition, including the government’s 1998 devaluation and default. While he oversaw economic growth and wage increases in all but one of his years as leader, the collapse in oil prices coupled with U.S. and European sanctions present him with the biggest challenge of his presidency.

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Here’s Why the Russian Ruble Is Collapsing
“People thought: ‘he’s a strong leader who brought order and helped improve our living standards,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst in Moscow. “And now it’s the same Putin, he’s still got all the power, but everything is collapsing.”

In a surprise move today, the Russian central bank raised interest rates by the most in 16 years, taking its benchmark to 17 percent. That failed to halt the rout in the ruble, which has plummeted to about 70 rubles a dollar from 34 as oil prices dived by almost half to below $60 a barrel. Russia relies on the energy industry for as much as a quarter of economic output, Moody’s Investors Service said in a Dec. 9 report.

New Era

The ruble meltdown and accompanying economic slump marks the collapse of Putin’s oil-fueled economic system of the past 15 years, said an executive at Gazprombank, the lender affiliated to Russia’s state gas exporter. He asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The higher interest rate will crush lending to households and businesses and deepen Russia’s looming recession, according to Neil Shearing, chief emerging-markets economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd.

Gross domestic product will shrink 0.8 percent next year under the Economy Ministry’s latest projection. With oil at $60, it may drop 4.7 percent, the central bank said last week.

“How many bankruptcies await us in January?” opposition lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov said on Twitter. “People will be out of work, out of money. The nightmare is only just beginning.”

Read More: Putin and Russian Troubles