Russians Upset Over Distant Events

It’s good to see Cold War paranoia is back in 2017:

Russia says it views the arrival of more than 3,000 US soldiers in Poland as a threat to its own security.

The troops are part of President Barack Obama’s response to reassure Nato allies concerned about a more aggressive Russia.

It is the largest US military reinforcement of Europe in decades.

Here is a map of Poland and its surrounds:

The distance between the eastern Polish border and the western Russian border is about 500km.  There are entire nations lying between Russia proper and Poland; they might as well complain about the troops in Germany as Poland.

Of course, they may be talking about the Russian enclave around Kaliningrad, in which case it is necessary to note that:

Last October, Russia sent nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its exclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, followed a month later by Bastion anti-ship missile launchers.

Which presumably don’t threaten anyone, oh no.  They’re for defensive purposes, you see.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that the move “threatens our interests and our security”.

Perhaps if the Russians would state clearly what their “interests” in Poland and its neighbours were, such agonising would be unnecessary.  And this is just bollocks:

“It’s a third country that is building up its military presence on our borders in Europe,” [Peskov] said. “It isn’t even a European country.”

Poland’s not in Europe?  Where is it then, Africa?

Poland’s Undersecretary of State for Defence Tomasz Szatkowski said the deployment was necessary because of Russia’s “large exercises” next to its border and its “aggressive actions in our vicinity – I mean Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea”.

Ah, finally somebody who is speaking sensibly.

Mr Trump’s nomination for defence secretary – Gen James Mattis – is likely to be asked about the new administration’s attitude to Russia in his Senate confirmation hearing later on Thursday.

Leaving aside Obama’s last-minute posturing, a thousand quid says Mattis fully approves of the troops being in Poland and sees preventing Russia from attempting to annex more of Eastern Europe as being a top US strategic priority in the way that confronting them over Syria most certainly is not.  I can well imagine Trump pushing the Europeans to start paying more for their own defense and rightly so, but I think Putin will be making a very big mistake if he thinks the US is about to abandon Eastern Europe to Russian control.

UPDATE

And whaddya know?

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for defence secretary and spy chief have been taking aim at Russia during their Senate confirmation hearings.

General James Mattis, defence secretary nominee, warned Nato was under its biggest attack since World War Two.

Mr Mattis, a retired general and Mr Trump’s pick for Pentagon chief, said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to divide Nato nations.

“I think right now the most important thing is that we recognise the reality of what we deal with with Mr Putin,” he told the Armed Services Committee.

“And we recognise that he is trying to break the North Atlantic Alliance and that we take the steps… to defend ourselves where we must.

“I think it’s under the biggest attack since World War II, sir, and that’s from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.”

I think we might get to find out fairly soon just how much of a Russian puppet Trump is.  My guess, as I hinted at earlier, is the stance of his administration will be “You can have Syria, but if you start rattling sabres in Eastern Europe, we’ll arm them to the teeth”.

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15 thoughts on “Russians Upset Over Distant Events

  1. If the Russians are allowed to have a long memory for historical grudges, the Poles are too. Given that the former has on at least 2 occasions been part of cooperative efforts to obliterate the latter, the former ought to STFU.

  2. Its impressive mental gymnastics that was able to construct that sentence of Poland not being in Europe but at the same time being on Russia’s European border.

  3. There are two sides to this. Russia has a legitimate interest in its backyard. Why would Americans be there at all?

  4. Russia has a legitimate interest in its backyard.

    I agree, but one would think the Russians are obliged to state what that interest is.

    Why would Americans be there at all?

    I believe Poland’s Undersecretary of State for Defence Tomasz Szatkowski has answered that adequately.

  5. If the Russians are allowed to have a long memory for historical grudges, the Poles are too.

    Indeed. As I said in this post years ago: is there any justification for Russia’s “age-old sensitivity”? I understand that they suffered invasions from the Mongols, Napolean, and Hitler but they are far from unique in that respect.

  6. I have rather an interesting book on the Poland/Soviet war of 1920. The Soviet northern thrust was aimed at Germany (to raise a Red revolution of course); Poland had the bad luck to be in the way and so was to be knocked off in weeks. But the Poles won.

    The Soviet southern army was also to threaten Poland via the Ukraine, but the eventual aim was to go for Italy, conquering minor powers en route.

  7. What’s happening in the US at the moment is that the adults are back in charge again. After eight years of Obama’s faculty lounge fantasies, the new administration will be filled with people who understand national interests, the use of power and the process of negotiation. I suspect that history will view the Obama administration as a bizarre interlude of willful blindness to reality, and the Trump administration as a return to normality.

  8. Peskov meant the U.S. not being a European country. But the U.S. has rather legitimate interest in preventing a dynamically growing part of the free world from being turned into a “backyard” of a savage kleptocracy.

  9. Peskov meant the U.S. not being a European country.

    I thought of that, but then who are the other two he alludes to?

    But the U.S. has rather legitimate interest in preventing a dynamically growing part of the free world from being turned into a “backyard” of a savage kleptocracy.

    Indeed.

  10. The other two are continental Europe and Russia, whose amicable relations the insidious Anglo-Saxons are constantly trying to spoil. One of the staples of Russian propaganda. The earliest example I can think of is Alexander Pushkin’s poem “To the slanderers of Russia” condemning “outsiders” who had something to say about the “internal Slavic relations” (brutal suppression of Polish uprisings by Russia).

    Used to be coupled with lobbying for a Europe-only security mechanism to replace NATO – have not heard of that one for a while.

  11. The other two are continental Europe and Russia, whose amicable relations the insidious Anglo-Saxons are constantly trying to spoil.

    The whole thing reminds me of the old quip about Stalin thinking a “secure border” was one with the Soviet Union on both sides of it.

  12. My guess, as I hinted at earlier, is the stance of his administration will be “You can have Syria, but if you start rattling sabres in Eastern Europe, we’ll arm them to the teeth”.

    Turkey, though, has a lot of potential to make things go bad. At the moment its stance is that of ‘pro-Russian Islamist dictatorship NATO member’. That can’t last.

  13. Turkey, though, has a lot of potential to make things go bad. At the moment its stance is that of ‘pro-Russian Islamist dictatorship NATO member’. That can’t last.

    Indeed. I think Turkey, Russia, and Iran will all fall out again at some point though, especially as they jockey for position in a Syria which (hopefully) the West will leave well alone. It’ll be interesting to see which way Turkey will jump, especially now they have a rather alarming security issue at home.

  14. @Stephen

    “Turkey, though, has a lot of potential to make things go bad. At the moment its stance is that of ‘pro-Russian Islamist dictatorship NATO member’. That can’t last.”

    Yes I think this is where the game will remain, although China will also be an emerging target for US agitation. This newly formed US-Russian strategic alliance is preparing itself to wage the last crusade against the evil ISIS empire.

    When will Erdogan betray Putin and switch back to the West is the key flashpoint.

    It is acknowledged by many eschatological scholars of all faiths that we have now entered the Messianic end times, and have done so ever since Russia secured the Crimea. Some say that Erdogan is the Dajjāl the Islamic Antichrist, who is destined to be killed by the true Messiah in Damascus:

    “Then Jesus son of Mary will descend at the white minaret to the east of Damascus. He will then catch him up at the gate of Ludd and kill him”.

    So is this what Erdogan’s messianic end role is to be, the false prophet, and if so, who is the true Messiah that will slay him east of Damascus?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Masih_ad-Dajjal

  15. Poland’s not in Europe? Where is it then, Africa?

    The so-called “Poland” doesn’t exist. There is empty land between Germany and Russia that needs to be occupied. Hitler and Stalin figured this out in 1939.

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