Although the Turkish military shot down a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet for violating its sovereign airspace, Putin shares responsibility for casually risking the lives of his own troops to fulfill his impulse to test the boundaries of other nations and force them into submission. The Russian military and People are, however, the ones who will continue to pay the price for Putin’s policy miscalculations as more consequences of Putin’s half-baked grand strategy are realized.
Manipulating the Russian populous with feelings of patriotism and calls for a return to the glory days of the Russian Empire, Imperialist Putin paints a picture of an outside world hostile to Russia, yet it is the Putin government that is the greatest threat to the Russian People. What makes Putin particularly dangerous is that he appears to truly believe the propaganda he and his cronies have engineered to leave him blameless no matter what goes wrong.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who shares the same troublemaking mindset of all Cold War-era spies and shortsighted saboteurs, is willing to sacrifice whatever and whoever it takes to complete his mission. Where a true leader is willing to take responsibility for his decisions and mistakes, Putin’s inability to take any responsibility for his policies is clearly exemplified by his attempt to blame the US for the downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkish forces over Turkish airspace.
It was Putin’s decision to seize Crimea, support the Ukrainian insurgency, and secretly send Russian forces into East Ukraine, which resulted in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and continues to undermine the potential for cooperation between Russia and the West in Syria. It was also Putin’s decision to target Western-backed rebel groups instead of the Islamic State, to engage in provocative military exercises along the borders of NATO countries since the beginning of the Ukraine Crisis, and to ignore earlier warnings of retaliation from the Turkish military when it previously violated Turkish airspace.
Putin has already awoken Europeans to the threat of Russia, pushed Ukraine closer to Europe, divided the Middle East against it, and crippled the Russian economy. He has now helped derail economic opportunities in Greece, Turkey, and, with exception to Iran, the rest of the Middle East. Where Turkey was drifting away from its NATO allies over President Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, Putin has given Turkey’s leader a very powerful incentive to appease its Western allies.
In Putin’s deluded version of reality, Russian and Western sanctions are punishing to the West, because the West cannot survive without Russia, while NATO fears war with Russia, yet needs Russian help against the Islamic State. Although Europe relies on Russian natural gas and benefits from trade with Russia, it can and needs to diversify its sourcing of energy while there are other markets to sell European goods. To boot, NATO does not need help with its bombing campaign from Russia as the only thing new it brings to the table is its ability to ease the Assad regime out of power.
Furthermore, NATO does not fear a military confrontation with Russia. What it fears is the use of nuclear weapons, which is a fear that was once shared by the leaders of Russia. As a politician and spy, Putin and his cronies seem to lack any respect for the destructive nature of nuclear technology. Today’s Russian leadership simply sees it as a means of achieving their objectives.
While some feel Putin’s ability to cause trouble is a sign of genius, the truth is that Putin has simply copied the behavior of Rogue States like North Korea. Quite frankly, the willingness to use nuclear weapons without any concern for the consequences in an attempt to force one’s will on to others is not a sign of genius. It is simply an example of undermining peace and stability with threats of violence. It is no different than robbing a bank with a gun, expect Russian’s gun happens to be a nuclear arsenal that could result in the annihilation of the Russian People and the rest of the human race.
Absent nuclear weapons, Russia is a short-term threat, because the consequences of its threatening stance is bankrupting Russia. Indeed, the longer Russia is at odds with the world, the weaker it becomes. This recent incident with Turkey will only cost the Russian People direct diplomatic relations with a NATO country and deprive Russia alternative economic opportunities while making Russia far more dependent on European consumers to sell its natural gas.
Considering Russia has been forced to sell China its most advanced fighter jet, as one example, Russia finds itself in an untenable position. As China modernizes its military, its long-term objective is to establish military supremacy over Russia and the United States. Despite safeguards and agreements, the Chinese will eventually reverse engineer Russian military technology, which means it will lose its military edge over China.
China’s land-reclamation activities in the South China Sea represent the kind of defense preparation needed for China’s long-term strategic goals. Although China will engage in limited aggression toward its neighbors and the United States to ensure its planes are not derailed, the Chinese leadership wishes to avoid a major confrontation with the US until it is fully prepared to engage US forces in the region as well as defend against internal threats and threats from countries like Russia.
Blinded by their Cold War mentality, the Putin government fails to see the threat of China and the need for the US to balance Chinese power.
Putin’s disputes with the West are fruitless distractions that prevent the US and the rest of Asia from properly confronting China before it can achieve its long-term goals. For Russia, the longer it takes to reverse course on Putin’s self-sabotaging strategy, the less relevant Russia will become on the global stage. As much as the US and its allies need to balance Chinese power, the simple truth is that Russia needs the US to balance the threat of China.
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