As we review recent events — and decisions — of Vladimir Putin, we must remind ourselves that Russia, for the Russians, is the Russian Federation, not the singular term Russia… the Russian Federation looms as we endeavor to grasp the motivation of the President in his third Presidential term
As events in Ukraine move ominously, step-by-step, action and counteraction, toward a “flashpoint”, it seems the disruptions of political forces could produce a larger military conflict.
If the Russian Federation determines that a strategic move by the United States to “lethally assist” the government of the Ukraine, with billions of military aid, the odds are that President Putin will meet this action with a counter strategic, disruptive move. Disruption is a move that changes everything.
Larger forces at work seem to be pressing for confrontation
Let us look at the dynamics of confrontation and change. When pressed and confronted, a historical move, in business and beyond, is “to disrupt”, as in “disruptive innovation“. It is a “disruption” when a new IT technology turns business-as-usual around, often from top-to- bottom. Old ways change, sometimes the norms seems to change in a heartbeat. Old verities crash down, old truisms pass into history to be replaced by a next generation of unfamiliar and often threatening changes. The “next disruption” is becoming a way of life, whether East or West, South or North, the world is changing with speed and powerful repercussions. Russia has had a great disruption — are the Russian people ready for another?
The Next Disruption
The collapse of state socialism and end of the Soviet Union brought massive change and an end to the communist system, even as capitalism is challenged, system-wide, by disruption brought on by new technologies and consequences of global change.
East and West, the change is far-reaching.
Neoliberal economics of trade have brought cross-border global change, economic shocks and crisis, and a worldwide web and attendant culture shock. An “open” Internet has reached and connected billions and delivery life-impacting information to billions of newly connected ‘netizens’. The challenges to the order of things of the Internet soon will bring an Internet of Things that threatens to become an Internet of Everything. Mobile devices and manufacturing, home and cars, everything is fair game for a chip implant.
While neoliberal policies, information technology, economics and trade proliferate, conflict and war escalate. Neoconservative preemptive policies disrupt regions, not the least of which was the United States prevailing in the Cold War. The disruption of communism went into history only a few years after the Soviet Union’s last war, as it economy collapsed, overextended and skewed away from meeting the legitimate needs of its people.
Fatefully, a decade-long war in Afghanistan was the proverbial ‘final straw’ as the US supplied mujahideen campaign prevailed in more ways that anticipated. As the Afghan insurgents finished their fight with the Russians, they soon were to turn on their US sponsors, to became known as the Taliban and worse. They became the base of a movement that would grow beyond the mujahideen. Al-Qaeda. A base that threatened in its extremism both East and West, that morphed over and over throughout the region, spreading to Iraq, where it had no presence, to a post US invasion Iraq, and Syria and beyond.
Disruptive forces today are impacting all parts of the globe. The forces are man-made and natural, the results can be attributed to former policies, current policies, and the results and consequences of both.
The reality of blowback continues for the Russian Federation, as it confronts enemies whether Afghans or Chechens, Ukranians or NATO’s hard line advocates and perceived and/or real strategic/tactical and militant/insurgent/terrorist threats.
The reality of blowback continues for the US, as it confronts enemies throughout the Mideast, and across each continent as US bases are configured.
The prospect of a flashpoint between the Russian Federation and the US are increasing as ‘modernized’ nuclear weapons are in the development stream and set to be deployed — on both sides. A new heating up of the old Cold War is taking place in this setting of disruption.
The incendiary spark of economic war-like moves, petrol politics, sanctions, threats to go to war if negotiation fails each serve to ratchet up the risk environment.
This is the disruptive horizon as we move into 2015.
Is the expectation that the President of the Russian Federation, on the heals of the demise of the former Soviet Union, and with the nuclear arsenal second only to the United States, will “back down” as popular support for him and his policies which are acting to give a renewed sense of nationalism to the newly constituted Russian Federation?
One can speculate, but one can also look back at history — and the history of Russia to get a sense of the answer to this question. The people of the Russian Federation, one can venture, are not looking to lose on any front. President Putin’s popularity, despite setbacks and threats, speaks to this and their national will. The loss of the Cold War continues to resonate.
The threats of larger disruptions, beyond what Putin and the Russian Federation see, are also mounting. Once again, the threat of use of nuclear weapons is spreading in a action-reaction set of moves, and global climate change, a disruption that is gradual but also threatens a horizon of cataclysmic danger.
These are times to recognize the dangers of disruption in a 360° world.
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January 30, 2015 via Reuters
(Russian Federation) Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday he would not let anyone gain military superiority over Russia and that he would fulfill a plan to modernize the armed forces by 2020.
Russia (the Russian Federation), hit by Western sanctions over Ukraine and a fall in oil prices, is expected to enter recession this year but Shoigu said he would carry out the multi-billion dollar plan approved by President Vladimir Putin.
“The task set by the president – to prevent (others’) military superiority over Russia – will be fulfilled unconditionally,” Interfax news agency quoted Shoigu as telling a Defence Ministry meeting.
“For that, we plan to fulfill the government armament program and reach by 2020 the intended quantities of modern weapons systems,” he added.
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January 30, 2015 via Washington Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity appears to resist the laws of political physics. Despite the price of oil sinking below $50 a barrel and the Russian economy falling into a tailspin, Putin’s approval ratings hover above 80 percent, seemingly defying gravity.
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January 30, 2015 via Associated Press
MOSCOW — The chief of Russia’s General Staff says the military will receive 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year, maintaining a high tempo of modernization despite the nation’s economic downturn.
Gen. Valery Gerasimov’s statement Friday comes amid spiraling Russia-West tensions over Ukraine, where fighting between pro-Russia rebels and government forces flared up anew this month…
Gerasimov said weapons modernization should prevent the U.S. and NATO from achieving military superiority over Russia.
He said the development of strategic nuclear forces is the top priority, adding that Russia will counter NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense system by deploying weapons capable of penetrating the shield.
Gerasimov said that Russia is also developing long-range precision conventional weapons in response to the U.S. Prompt Global Strike program.
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January 30, 2015 via Sputnik
MOSCOW — Measures taken by the Russian Defense Ministry to develop the Strategic Nuclear Forces and raise the capabilities of regular troops will prevent the United States or NATO’s superiority over Russia, General Staff head Valery Gerasimov said Friday.
“The Armed Forces’ priority is the quality improvement of the Strategic Nuclear Forces,” Gerasimov said.
“This year, four missile regiments are planned to be established and equipped with modern missile complexes within the Strategic Missile Forces,” he added.
Gerasimov’s statement echoes a pledge by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who reiterated earlier in the day that the Russian military will begin working on the task set by the president to guarantee military superiority upon completion of the state weapons program.
Increasing numbers of US anti-missile defense systems in the Asia-Pacific region are forcing Russia to take responsive measures, Russian General Staff head Valery Gerasimov said Friday.
“The American anti-missile defense system has a global character and the US and its allies are increasing the elements of this system in the Asia-Pacific region,” Gerasimov said.
According to Gerasimov, these actions are in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
“We cannot remain indifferent to the actions of western countries and are forced to take responsive measures,” Gerasimov said.
Last November, Russian Deputy Defense Ministry Anatoly Antonov stated that the US global missile defense system is intended to undermine regional and international security, and poses a serious threat to the Asia-Pacific Region.
Under NATO’s planned missile defense system, radars and interceptors will be placed in phases in several NATO states. The shield will be strengthened by naval forces. In Europe, the United States plans to install an Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense system in Romania this year and a similar system in Poland by 2018.
Russia has continuously called on the international community to address the global expansion of the US anti-missile defense shield.
The Russian Armed Forces will develop a defense plan for 2016-2020 and submit it to President Vladimir Putin for approval in December, Russian General Staff chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov said Friday.
Gerasimov spoke on a variety of new challenges and threats to Russia’s national security, including non-military ones. He said the West was increasingly using political and economic means to place pressure on Russia.
“This will all be taken into account while developing the Russian Ministry of Defense’s plan for the period of 2016-2020, which will be submitted to the president for his confirmation in December of this year,” Gerasimov said.