The risk of the Kremlin rolling the dice against NATO is real.
Nearly two years ago, following the Russian seizure of Crimea, I explained that the West was in a new Cold War with the Kremlin, whether we like it or not. The aggressive moves of President Vladimir Putin, particularly in Ukraine, in the early spring of 2014 created a situation of hostility short of all-out conflict, rather a semi-war, something I’ve termed Special War. The good news for us is that Russia, an intrinsically weak state, is eminently able to be deterred by a far stronger NATO.
However, that analysis was rejected by the White House, as well as most Western foreign policy mavens, as alarmist, and none of my recommendations on how to prevent Cold War 2.0 from going hot were implemented by the Obama administration. As a result, Russia has been anything but deterred, as their military intervention in Syria’s terrible civil war last year demonstrated, to say nothing of Mr. Putin’s saber-rattling in Eastern Europe.
Yet my view is now officially the Kremlin’s too (it’s been Moscow’s unofficial take far longer) as evidenced by a series of alarming statements by top Russian officials in recent days. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev explained, “we have slid back to a new Cold War”—of course he blamed the West for this—to the shock of attendees at Munich’s annual security conference, Europe’s premier event of this kind. Mr. Medvedev has long been viewed by optimistic Westerners as the Kremlin’s gentler “good cop” compared to President Putin’s rougher-hewn KGB ways but that illusion, like so many others, has now evaporated.
Read the rest at the New York Observer ….