Four years ago this week, I coined the term Cold War 2.0 to describe the deteriorating diplomatic and military situation between Russia and the West in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s dramatic seizure of Crimea. It was obvious to anyone who wished to see that a period of renewed conflict had arrived—because Moscow sought it. It wasn’t a repeat of the last Cold War, rather a reborn rivalry that promised to be even more unpredictable the second time. I concluded my assessment:
The West will prevail in this Cold War too because Putin’s corruption-laden model for Russia is unsustainable in the long run. In terms of population and per capita GDP, Russia is more or less Mexico with nuclear weapons. We are not headed for a bipolar world again, but a multipolar one where Russia can be a dangerous spoiler. But NATO, with American leadership, needs to wake up.
However, many people did not wish to wake up just yet, so my announcement of Cold War 2.0’s arrival was met with criticism that I was alarmist and overly worried about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the retinue of rough men around him, mainly Chekists like himself. I know something about Chekists—and Russians—so I understood that the Kremlin wasn’t going to stop its increasingly aggressive provocations unless it was forced to.
The last four years have witnessed Moscow’s march, real and virtual, on one Western institution after another. Above all, Putin’s Special War against the West—an unpleasant amalgam of espionage, propaganda, subversion and cyberattacks—has wrought havoc at minimal cost to Moscow. The Russian effort to create mayhem in America’s 2016 election surely succeeded beyond the Kremlin’s wildest hopes, while Britain’s recent Skripal case, an audacious attack with a military-grade nerve agent, demonstrates that Moscow’s spies aren’t beholden to any gentlemanly rules from the last Cold War.
Read the rest at The Observer …