If you’re worried about America’s survival, you might want to take a look at what’s happening in the area of the Black sea. Russia has naval bases there. It’s no mystery to me, and it shouldn’t be to you, what their ambitions are for the region. A while ago, they just decided to take a piece or two of the Ukraine where some Russian speakers lived. No negotiations, no discussion, just “okay, you’re part of Russia now”.
Vladimir Putin is longing for the good old days of Soviet Russia, when it was (almost) the most powerful nation on earth and could hold all the countries around it as hostages. Well, some of those countries now belong to NATO, and taking some of them back could start World War III. Although Ukraine isn’t part of NATO, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and a lot of other countries near the Russian border are. An invasion would trigger the NATO treaty obligations for the US, and 27 other nations. But what exactly are those obligations?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s documents says: “an armed attack against one or more of the participating countries in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all….If such an attack happens, all parties will assist the country being attacked through such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.”
The above, known as Article 5, has been tested only once, after the 9/11 attacks. No force was involved, however, just NATO-coordinated surveillance flights.
So there’s no precedent for the kind of action that would counteract Russian actions in Ukraine or elsewhere. Now, look again at Article 5: “such action as the member nation deems necessary, including the use of armed force”. The treat doesn’t guarantee the use of force to assist an ally under attack. This means that, although the willingness to do so has always been implied, a nasty “Dear Vladimir” letter would also be an appropriate response.
Western countries are ratcheting down their defense spending, and European troubles relating to terrorism and refugees from the Middle East have left NATO nations weak and distracted.
The United States and other nations are fatigued by the results of our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americans are worried about more than just Russia these days, like North. Korea, Iran, and China.
Here’s a scenario for you: Vladimir Putin gets cocky from his success in Eastern Ukraine and moves on to something even more ambitious: Hybrid warfare. His goal: to undermine NATO and the European Union by menacing a small country that shares a land border with Russia: Estonia.
Estonia. You might be hearing about it for the first time. It’s one of the Baltic States, and was a Soviet satellite with, perhaps, a quarter of its population speaking Russian. Its military? No air force and an army smaller than the police departments in some of our larger cities.
Putin will use Hybrid Warfare, something he’s getting very good at. What’s hybrid warfare? Hybrid warfare is a mixture of military and non-military strategies to weaken the target state. Cyber attacks, propaganda, economic pressures. These are 21st-century Russian tactics, the key is to muddle the picture so as to make it hard to figure whether an attack is really under way at all, and allow the Russian aggressor to proclaim its innocence (for a while, at least).
Okay, so, Russia starts by riling up ethnic“Russians” in Estonia, plastering them with the narrative that they are discriminated against by the government. Russian agents stir up protests in the cities, and men in unmarked green uniforms start showing up, as they did in Ukraine, and take over municipal buildings and TV/Radio stations.
As things deteriorate, Putin (remember him?) orders exercises of elite troops on the Russian side of the border, giving him the option of military intervention at short notice. This worked very nicely for him in Ukraine. At the same time, “militia forces” start forming in areas with ethnic Russians.
Waves of cyber-attacks break down Estonian communications, which cause confusion and paralysis. NATO, in the meantime, is kept busy with air space violations by Russian fighter jets.
Finally, Estonia declares to NATO that an invasion is under way and asks for military assistance. The only problem is that the confrontation-averse countries like Germany want a peaceful solution. Other nations, like the U.S,, aren’t certain that a military response is appropriate, as many of the “attacks” are non-military. Putin, for his part, denies wrongdoing and mentions, as an aside, that any action by NATO may require the use of nuclear weapons.
NATO can’t reach a consensus of opinion, and little or nothing is done. Thus, Estonia is occupied by Russian Forces to “protect” the local populace.
NATO fails the challenge, and Putin spends the rest of his reign carving out pieces of nearby countries as he needs them. His popularity with the Russian people never suffers.