Here is a cheery little prediction from those fun-loving Russians: Nuclear War!!!“Under certain conditions local and regional conflicts may develop into a full-scale war involving nuclear weapons”. So says General Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military. The Washington Post has the story:
Makarov specifically referred to NATO’s plans to offer membership to Georgia and Ukraine as potentially threatening Russia’s security…Russia also considers missile defense plans as another security challenge.Russia has strongly opposed the U.S.-led missile defense plan, saying it could threaten its nuclear forces and undermine their deterrence potential.
It isn’t just the US that has Russia worried; its whole neighborhood is going downhill. Low level conflicts in the North Caucasus aren’t going away, and the demographic trends look grim from a Kremlin point of view. With the US edging toward the exit in Afghanistan, conflicts in Iraq and Syria on the boil, and the spirit of jihadism threatening Central Asia, Russia does not like what it sees when it looks south and east.The US and Russia have a surprising number of interests in common, but we come into conflict at some points and there is bad blood and suspicion between us. It’s possible that a second Putin era in the Kremlin will be an era of diminished expectations in Russia as the limits of the ‘resurgence’ from the lows of the Yeltsin years make themselves felt. That could conceivably make for better US-Russian relations; a less expansionist and more defense-minded Russia would be a natural partner for the US.Russia is not happy these days. The increasing isolation of its longtime friend Syria is a fresh demonstration of Russia’s impotence. That Turkey, the Arab League and France are all singing in chorus with the United States about Syria and even Iran is a worst case geopolitical scenario for a Russia that still longs for the kind of Middle Eastern influence (and arms sales) that it once had. Better relations with an impoverished Ukraine and continuing dominance of Belarus provide little comfort for Moscow’s great power nostalgia.Nuclear war, for all the saber rattling, is not in the cards on Russia’s frontiers in the foreseeable future — but a restless and unhappy Russia, unsatisfied with its place in the world but unsure how to change a political situation that it does not like, will be with us for a while.