F-16s and NATO, Russia and US

Years of failed negotiations between the Russian Federation, NATO, EU and US that led to war in Ukraine has entered a next phase. Not a new phase, but a ‘next phase’. The delivery of F-16 fighter systems delivers a next level of fear and loathing — and more that is not in the open



It’s the capabilities of the F-16 systems, those long-range, stand-off cruise missile capabilities, those armaments of mass destruction and recent testing/deployment of ‘smart’ tactical-use weapons for F-16s that most concern Russian command and control. The F-16 (and its follow on, the F-35) carries an ominous message, a strike package that, as NATO expands closer to the Russian border, and closer to Moscow’s Kremlin and St. Petersburg and other Russian city and command centers, dwindles clock minutes from the launch of missiles to strike of warheads.

Repeat — the capabilities of the F-16 (and F-35) go far beyond conventional weapons. It is these non-conventional capabilities, the nuclear strike capabilities that loom. The Russian command and control systems, their ability to respond to attack is at risk in their eyes and their estimates.

It goes further into the psyche too. It is the fear and anger Russian leadership has directed at “the West” since the fall of the Berlin wall when Vladimir Putin was stationed in East Germany and, as a top-level Soviet operative, worked with the communist regime to shut down their apparatus and apparatchiks, burn documents, destroy secrets, and depart for Russia. President Putin went through very difficult times in that era and suffered in his personal life. He has subsequently said publicly that the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of history’s greatest tragedies.

Today, we hear the decades-in-power President of the Russian Federation vow to resurrect a continuation of Russian greatness.

President Putin’s vision of a reconstructed Russian Eurasia and global power drives him. Mr. Putin has talked of threats to Russia as ‘existential’. In classic military terms, one can see how threats at his border in Ukraine can be seen as threats far beyond what NATO sees… One can conjecture fear of “beheading”, of Russian command and control communication capabilities incapacitated by weapon systems such as the F-16 with its tested and demonstrated conventional and nuclear capabilities. The move of F-16s to forward positions minutes from the Russian border can be seen as an untenable threat in Putin’s world.

Now again comes time for negotiations. Although negotiations failed prior to war in Ukraine, the coming negotiations whether brokered as we’ve read by the Chinese government, or the Catholic pope, take on critical importance. Although not out in the open and discussed by experts on-camera or academics in the media, a failure of negotiations and deployment of F-16s and/or F-35s ‘near the border’ will necessarily involve another round of ratcheting up of weapons of mass destruction.

There it is… realpolitik demands diplomacy and mutual security. Diplomacy calls for non-proliferation solutions, not nuclear proliferation.

Failure at the bargaining table will continue heating up a new nuclear arms race. Imminent catastrophe will be the result.

The clock is ticking …