Foreign Policy

Russia prepares for war while we’re distracted with tapes and emails

Russia War U.S. Election
Russia War U.S. Election

While the attention of our news media is consumed with video comments and e-mail releases, other factors may be influencing your future. Over the last week there have been a significant number of movements by Russia on the world stage.

Multiple media outlets are reporting on large scale civil defense drills in Russia. ABC news reported:

“The Russian Emergencies Ministry has launched a sweeping nationwide civil defense drill set to involve 40 million people. Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the four-day exercise launched Wednesday will help ‘raise government efficiency while dealing with the consequences of large-scale emergencies.’

{mosads}Citing routine drills, Russia has even moved missiles within striking range of NATO targets, into the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania.

Meanwhile, CNN informs us that:

“Moscow abruptly left a nuclear security pact, citing U.S. aggression, and moved nuclear-capable Iskandar missiles to the edge of NATO territory in Europe. Its officials have openly raised the possible use of nuclear weapons.”

Russia may be preparing their population for “difficult times.” Citing local media, The Daily Mail reports that Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad, fearing a global war. Politicians and high-ranking figures allegedly received a warning from President Vladimir Putin to return to the “Motherland.”

The Daily Mail added that all this is occurring while “Putin cancelled a planned visit to France amid a furious row over Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict.”

UPI further confirmed the growing strain in relations between Russia and the West:

“Tensions continue to rise between the United States and Russia as the Russian foreign minister said Sunday recent actions and statements threaten his country’s national security. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a television interview Sunday the United States and NATO were taking aggressive steps rooted in ‘Russophobia’ and that recent remarks by leaders pose a threat to Russia’s national security.”

This tension is spilling out into territory beyond the U.S. as well, as reports show the  European Union is less likely to ease sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine, now that Russia has intensified air strikes on E.U. and U.S.-friendly rebels in Syria. They are even considering more punitive steps.

The White House is responding now.  Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this week the U.S. was considering a “range” of “proportional” responses to alleged Russian hacking of U.S. political groups like the DNC. The accusation from Washington, CNN reports, came after the Syrian ceasefire talks broke down when U.S. officials suggested Russia should be investigated for war crimes.

America’s attention is diverted by a contested election. Europe has the fate of the European Union, a refugee crisis and the international monetary crisis dominating their news.  

In the “Guns of August” we are reminded that:

“What a staff makes out of the available evidence depends upon the degree of optimism or pessimism prevailing among them, on what they want to believe or fear to believe.”

The back and forth between Russia and the West grows in intensity as time goes on. The United States is threatening retaliation for “alleged” Russian cyber attacks. The United States government had better produce the evidence before taking any retaliatory actions otherwise it risks further embarrassment on the world diplomatic stage at the hands of the Russians, which can only bolster the Russian position at the expense of the United States international diplomacy.  

Escalation of minor incidents, diversion from other issues, and miscalculations of expected responses are some of the causes of the greatest conflicts in history. These often back adversaries into corners that neither can escape from.

We are witnessing an escalation in tensions based on perceived weaknesses and conflicting interests.

Posturing of military forces within close proximity to each other in geographic areas that are politically unstable with both side engaged in uncoordinated combat operations against a range of adversaries only requires one incident to rapidly spiral events out of control — and produce an effect none of us is expecting but which will influence all of our futures.

DeMaggio is a retired Special Agent in Charge and retired Captain in the U.S. Navy. The above is the opinion of the author and is not meant to reflect the opinion of the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Government.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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