Putin’s war on the West

[T]he contest he (Putin) insists on can no longer be dodged. It did not begin in poor Ukraine and will not end there. Prevailing will require far more resolve than Western leaders have so far mustered.

via The view from the Kremlin: Putin’s war on the West | The Economist.

Putin has held power in Russia for 15 years.  What has he gained?

From his tantrums over the Middle East to his invasion of Georgia and multiple misadventures in Ukraine, Mr Putin has sometimes seemed to stumble into accidental disputes with the West, driven by a paranoid fear of encirclement. In hindsight it seems that, given his outlook, confrontation may have been inevitable.

Putin has driven a wedge between the US and Europe over how to deal with him, and thus weakened both.

For Mr Putin the only good neighbour is a weak one; vassals are better than allies. Only the wilfully blind would think his revanchism has been sated. Sooner or later it may encompass the Baltic states—members of both the European Union and NATO, and home to Russian minorities of the kind he pledges to “protect”.

So what is the West to do?  Options include arming Ukraine,which some Americans but no Europeans want.  Putin wins.

Or, provide Ukraine with foreign aid that allows it to build a better state, which will then side with Western powers.  Putin loses.

Which way will the US and Europe chose?

Turning Off the Lights

Is Blackenergy malware the future of cyberwarfare? | Al Jazeera America.

Weedon’s company FireEye has found 50 different types of malware that were targeting energy companies. According to a 2014 survey by ThreatTrack Security, a malware detection firm, 37 percent of businesses in the U.S. energy sector were infiltrated in the previous year. The Department of Homeland Security was alarmed enough to publish a special bulletin in December about the dangers posed by malware like BlackEnergy.

This threat seems to come from a Russian criminal gang, operating under the protection of the government.  And they can turn off your lights.  Permanently.

The “New” Cold War Heats Up

BBC News – Russia Baltic military actions ‘unprecedented’ – Poland.

5 September: Abduction of an Estonian security service operative

INCIDENT: Estonian security service operative captured by Russian agents on Estonian territory in a raid involving communications jamming and smoke grenades. Incident took place immediately after Obama’s assurances to the Baltic States.

CATEGORY: High Risk. Incursion into NATO member state’s territory. Had the Estonian official or his colleagues resisted, fatalities on either side would have been a catalyst for further escalation.

This and other high- risk incidents have become more common as tension over the Ukrainian situation deepens.  Most of the activity has occurred over international waters, but contact between military airplanes is increasing.

Several incidents have been reported in the region this week:

On Tuesday the Norwegian military said one of its warplanes had a “near miss” with a Russian fighter which had ventured too close, north of Norway

The Finnish air force said that there had been “unusually intense” Russian activity over the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, with most flights involving bombers, fighters and transport planes heading between the Russian mainland and the Kaliningrad enclave, between Lithuania and Poland

Nato said on Monday the alliance’s jets intercepted Russian planes repeatedly in the Baltic, and reported more than 30 types of Russian military aircraft in the area.

What does all this activity mean?  Could be nothing, or it could be Russia testing NATO capabilities.  Time will tell.

Black Sea Strategy

Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy | Stratfor.

The most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Such a plan must begin by defining a theater of operations sufficiently coherent geographically as to permit integrated political maneuvering and military planning. U.S. military doctrine has moved explicitly away from a two-war strategy. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. For me, it is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea.

The Black Sea is the geographical center of the current conflicts.  George Friedman argues that it should be the center of our focus in dealing with the region.

Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy | Stratfor

The Putin Factor: Russia, America and the Geopolitics of Ukraine | The Battle for Ukraine | FRONTLINE | PBS

The Putin Factor: Russia, America and the Geopolitics of Ukraine | The Battle for Ukraine | FRONTLINE | PBS.

[Putin’s] strategy on Ukraine has changed radically in the last several months. When I was ambassador, for instance, it was very clear to me and to our government watching this, that his main foreign policy objective for the region was to establish and strengthen something called the Eurasian Economic Union. This was his answer to the [European Union]. This was his way that Russia was going to be the economic hegemon of an economic region. Whether it was coercive or cooperative that’s a matter of dispute, but that was most certainly his focus. And key to making the Eurasian Economic Union viable was to have Ukraine as a member, and all of Ukraine not just Crimea. …

An interview with the former US Ambassador to Russia.

And So It Continues

Pro-Russian politicians and activists in Moldova’s breakaway Trans-Dniester region have asked the Russian parliament to draft a law that would allow their territory to join Russia.

via BBC News – Moldova’s Trans-Dniester region pleads to join Russia.

“Crimea and Punishment”

“Crimea and Punishment”: Comments on the Media Coverage of the Recent Events in Crimea | GeoCurrents.

“For a long time now, it’s been possible to foresee that this rabid hatred, being fired up in the West against Russia more and more with each passing year, would some day explode. This moment is upon us… The entire West came to show its denial of Russia and to block her path to the future,” wrote Fyodor Tyutchev, famous Russian poet and a militant Panslavist, in 1854 as the Crimean War was raging. 

 

Insightful article on Putin’s grasping for power, with lots of history thrown in for good measure.

Source: http://www.geocurrents.info/geopolitics/crimea-punishment-comments-media-coverage-recent-events-crimea#ixzz2v38mb3AU

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