Putin has delivered his strongest public remarks to date regarding the missiles placed by NATO on the borders of Russia – active in Romania and soon to be active in Poland:
"If yesterday in those areas of Romania people simply did not know what it means to be in the cross-hairs, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security," Putin said in a joint news conference in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
"It will be the same case with Poland," he said.
The US claims that the missiles are to protect against Iran. Putin suggests this is unnecessary as there is now an agreement in place with Iran regarding nuclear weapons. It seems to me the point is irrelevant – given the location of the missiles, they could strike either Iran or Russia just the same.
"We won't take any action until we see rockets in areas that neighbor us,” Putin added.
At least for the west, diplomacy does not appear to be an option:
"We've been repeating like a mantra that we will be forced to respond... Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody wants to conduct negotiations with us."
These central European countries are playing a dangerous game that Poland has lost once before. They are counting on promises of salvation from the west instead of remaining focused on developing good relations with regional neighbors. Instead of creating alliances with neighbors who share similar (and strictly limited) security concerns, they are willingly becoming pawns in MacKinder’s very great game.
There was once such a plan proposed – an alliance of these several central European countries:
Międzymorze, known in English as Intermarium, was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, for a federation, of Central and Eastern European countries. Invited to join the proposed federation were the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
Several of these countries feared for their independence if they joined such an alliance. In its place, they lost their independence and a significant portion of their population to war, starvation and deportation:
Within two decades of the failure of Piłsudski's grand scheme, all the countries that he had viewed as candidates for membership in the Intermarium federation had fallen to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, except for Finland (which nonetheless suffered some territorial losses in the Winter War).
Why they think their fate will be better when serving as pawns to the west than if standing with regional partners who hold identical security concerns is a question that will be asked by future historians if the tough talk ends in violence – as it most certainly will if Russia continues to be pressed.
For the Russians, there is history and context on this issue of troops amassing at the borders, something sorely lacking in the discourse of the west. Taken from A Russian Warning, co-authored by Eugenia V Gurevich, PhD, Dmitri Orlov, and The Saker (A. Raevsky) all currently living in the United States:
Let us take a step back and put what is happening in a historical context. Russia has suffered a great deal at the hands of foreign invaders, losing 22 million people in World War II. Most of the dead were civilians, because the country was invaded, and the Russians have vowed to never let such a disaster happen again.
Napoleon invaded and soon thereafter Russia was in Paris; Hitler invaded and Russia ended up in Berlin. Today, however, it will not require expending the lives of millions of Russians to press the attack:
If Hitler were to attack Russia today, he would be dead 20 to 30 minutes later, his bunker reduced to glowing rubble by a strike from a Kalibr supersonic cruise missile launched from a small Russian navy ship somewhere in the Baltic Sea.
The retaliatory damage will not be limited to Russia’s immediate neighbors:
Thus, if tomorrow a war were to break out between the US and Russia, it is guaranteed that the US would be obliterated. At a minimum, there would no longer be an electric grid, no Internet, no oil and gas pipelines, no interstate highway system, no air transportation or GPS-based navigation. Financial centers would lie in ruins. Government at every level would cease to function [if Russia could pull this one off first, we can avoid all of the other nasty stuff]. US armed forces, stationed all around the globe, would no longer be resupplied. At a maximum, the entire landmass of the US would be covered by a layer of radioactive ash.
This situation is existential to Russia – the greatest military in the world is parked on Russia’s doorstep while the political leaders of that military make threatening statements toward Russia daily.
If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.
Is the threat of global annihilation greater today than during the time of the Cold War? It seems to be the case. First, after the Cuban Missile Crisis, my understanding is that leaders on both sides developed and implemented meaningful communication systems and other mechanisms to minimize the risk of accidents and misinterpretations. Second, The Soviet Union had a geographic buffer provided by much of Central Europe – a trip wire for invasion.
Today, neither safety mechanism is in place. The dialogue – from all that we see – is dead. And NATO is on Russia’s doorstep and even threatening the heartland of the Ukraine.
Returning to The Saker:
What will happen next is hardly a surprise: the toxic mix of US Neocons and East-European russophobes will result in first and foremost a lot of paranoid rhetoric and grandstanding and in an increase of US and NATO forces in Eastern Europe. That, in turn, will result in the inevitable increase of Russian military capabilities directed at NATO, which will give the NATO officials even more reasons to speak of a “Russian threat” and give more paranoid nightmares to the East-Europeans.
While the outcome of US presidential elections change little regarding the actions of the empire – certainly not since November 22, 1963 – this doesn’t mean that the elections change nothing. Despite Obama greatly expanding the wars throughout North Africa and the Middle East, it is not difficult to imagine a different – and far more tragic – set of outcomes had McCain or Clinton, for example, been elected in 2008. One example will suffice.
Does anything of this current trajectory change for the better if Hillary Clinton is elected president? It is certain the answer is NFW; it is easy to imagine Clinton pushing Russia to the breaking point. Does anything of this current trajectory change for the better if Donald Trump is elected president? I don’t know. Maybe.
When it comes to the potential consequences of this dance, “maybe” is infinitely better than “NFW.”
For this reason, I am in complete sympathy with the arguments made by Walter Block – to be clear, I do not tell you to vote for Trump, but also use the word “support.”
Count my writing on this topic in the camp of “support.”