Sorting Out Putin’s Orwell 1984: On NATO, Baltic, Ukraine & Arctic

Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joe Dunford, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in July 2015, Russia the gravest potential “existential threat to the United States.”

According European Leadership Network report, “Dangerous Brinkmanship: Close Military Encounters between Russian and the West in 2014,” reaching Cold War levels.

Russia has a long track record of aggression, even before Ukraine to Baltic & Arctic this year.

Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has launched a investigation into legality of the independence of the three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). The Baltic countries were grabbed by the Soviet Union during World War II and regained their independence in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed. The Russian trial on the legal status of their independence is based on the idea that the interim Soviet government in place in 1991 was illegitimate and its decisions therefore also illegitimate.

Similar questions were raised about the legality of Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine prior to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian province in March, 2014. As far back as 1992, the Supreme Council of Russia ruled that Crimea had been delivered to Ukraine illegitimately by Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.

Infographic Data Disproves Russian Lies about NATO Military Expansion (source)

Russian leaders have been promoting the myth of NATO military expansion as part of their justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin himself claims that, “When the infrastructure of a military bloc is moving toward our borders, it causes us some concerns and questions. We need to take some steps in response.” Yet the data shows otherwise.

Prior to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and NATO’s response to restore deterrence in Europe, there was very little NATO military presence in the Alliance’s frontline states. Even today, despite requests by Eastern allies, there is no major NATO infrastructure closer to Russia than what existed at the end of the Cold War in Germany, Italy, UK, and other Western allies. Russia on the other hand, maintains tens of thousands of troops in several of its neighbors. As NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow recently stated on Twitter, “It is Russia that’s fabricating a NATO ‘threat’ to justify its aggressive actions & attempts to recreate sphere of influence.”

Chart of Russias Militarization of Arctic 2015 (source)

As the Arctic warms, Russia is positioning itself to become the dominant player in a resource-rich and strategically positioned region.

In order to capitalize on the oil and gas under the Arctic seabed and exploit new shipping routes as ice cover recedes, Moscow is undertaking a major military upgrade of its northern coast and outlying archipelagos. Its new bases — which include search-and-rescue stations, ports and airstrips, and military headquarters — are meant to project Russian hard power into an emerging strategic frontier.

The map shows exactly where Russia is building its bases, and reveals the continent-wide scope of Russia’s militarization of its northern coast. And it shows how intense Russia’s Arctic focus is compared to that of its neighbors and rivals.

As the Arctic warms, Russia is positioning itself to become the dominant player in a resource-rich and strategically positioned region.
In order to capitalize on the oil and gas under the Arctic seabed and exploit new shipping routes as ice cover recedes, Moscow is undertaking a major military upgrade of its northern coast and outlying archipelagos. Its new bases — which include search-and-rescue stations, ports and airstrips, and military headquarters — are meant to project Russian hard power into an emerging strategic frontier.
The map shows exactly where Russia is building its bases, and reveals the continent-wide scope of Russia’s militarization of its northern coast. And it shows how intense Russia’s Arctic focus is compared to that of its neighbors and rivals.

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