Europe's Twilight Zone
A New Russia Deal or Another Delusion?

Once more the old adage that the fat and self-contented cannot outrun the lean and hungry is playing itself out.

Published on: September 29, 2014
Andrew A. Michta is the M. W. Buckman Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
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  • Pete

    It’s in nobody’s interest to risk a serious confrontation with Russia over the Ukraine, especially America..

    • S.C. Schwarz

      Would we risk a confrontation over Poland? Over the Baltics? Over Germany? Peace in our time!

      • Pete

        Risk war with nuclear Russia over Alaska? Yes.

        Over Germany, France? Not so much.

        Poland, the Baltics? Lesser yet.

        • S.C. Schwarz

          Thank you for your frank answer. So then you would recommend we withdraw from NATO, close our remaining bases in Europe and bring the few troops we have left there home?

          • Pete

            Yes …. and use those ‘few troops’ to protect America’s southern border.

          • Big Bad Vodoo Daddy

            People with your logic know nothing about the world and how it works… So sad…

          • rheddles

            Good ad hominem.

          • Pete

            So Big Bad Daddy, since you seem to believe that you know how the world works, enlighten us, please.

          • jony101

            I agree with pete and I served in the US war machine, let other people take care of there own borders. Even george washington didnt want the US to get involved in foreign wars.

          • caap02

            It was a different world in George Washington’s time. There were no inter-cont. ballistic missiles. If NATO is toast, as you and Pete propose, then every country will have to start looking after it’s own defence. And the best and cheapest and easiest way to do that is to go nuclear. As it is, with the fate of the Budapest Memorandum, non-proliferation may be already be a dead letter. Perhaps having a world covered with nukes in every Ruritania makes you feel safer…. Like the gun lobby- a gun in every household, school and store makes things safer (although all emperical evidence shows that more guns=more gunfire=more deaths and injuries due to gunfire).

          • adk

            From whom?

          • Pete

            From whom!

            Well mi amigo, you might have noticed that tens millions of illegal aliens have crossed over our southern border.

            Many of these illegals now populate our state prisons systems, others are on the welfare dole, many more are in our emergency room and schools, and yes, some are even in the labor force, keeping our unemployment rate higher than it should be.

            And on top of that, the border is open to muslim terrorists who might wish to cross over and do us harm.

          • adk

            I wasn’t sure if you meant stopping illegals or were afraid of Mexican army invasion.

            Reading your contributions here I got an impression that you are a serious person although I mostly disagreed with your views. However, the idea of pulling our troops from Europe and planting them along the southern border is a joke.

    • jony101

      I agree, europe wanted welfare state over military spending, don’t come asking the US to risk its treasure (whats left of it) to rescue anyone. We got out own borders to defend.

  • Kelly Hall

    Putin saw what happened during the demise of the Soviet Union: a long, protracted occupation of Afghanistan bankrupting the USSR, and Reagan seizing upon it to engage in an arms race of attrition that the Kremlin couldn’t even begin to match. He appears to be trying to turn the tables with the US and Europe similarly engaged on multiple fronts in Iraq, Syria, and yes, Afghanistan. With Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, he seems to hold all the cards.
    However, I wonder just how strong is Putin’s position; does Russia really have the muscle to pull this off? Not just militarily and economically, but demographically. The ethnic Russian population has been plummeting for quite some time, and those who remain are largely unhealthy, beset with low birthrates and life expectancy from rampant alcoholism and the like. Putin is embarking on a long-term relationship with the Chinese, but is it a marriage of convenience or a deal with the Devil? How long will Beijing wait to play it to their advantage, such as occupying vast swathes of the desolate Russian frontier a la Putin’s annexation of the Crimea? Or wringing economic concessions from Moscow should the relationship become decidedly one-sided?
    If Putin is trying to regain a long-lost empire and usher in a new Golden Age for Russia, I’m afraid he’s in for a huge disappointment.

  • Rods

    Excellent article.

    I think the reality is that Russia will bank any concession that the west offers and then move on to the next item on their agenda. Meaningful negotiations are only meaningful when both sides enter into them in good faith and will abide by any agreement. We have seen to date that there is no good faith by Russia and very little adherence to what they have agreed. Obama has stated the US position “That Ukraine is of no strategic interest”, which I think is most unfortunate along with the shameful abandonment of the Budapest Agreement by both the US and UK. I think both of these will have repercussions further down the line.

    The US and EU both want to carry on as if nothing has happened where the current politicians’ social agendas are of much more importance than bothersome foreign policy. The reality is that they will settle on any terms that does not lose them votes and enables them to continue their trade with Russia where an improving economy will only gain them votes.

    The problem with this appeasement to Russia is that it will only encourage Putin to create further foreign ‘adventures’, where he has abandoned the economic route and unwritten contract with the Russian people, of limited rights in return ever improving living standards, that his tanking economy can not longer deliver. Going the nationalist route is going require regular popularity ‘top ups’.

    With the West just recovering from the worst recession for 80 years, shrinking defence budgets, the redrawing of European borders by aggression, an Anschluss for the attempted political acceptance of the takeover of territory and the appeasement of a dictator with a big chip on his shoulder all seems so much like a replay of the 1930’s and we know how that ended up.

    It is interesting how aggressive empire building as a result of past events by a dictator is recurring twice in under 100 years. With Hitler it was the loss of WWI and groups of Germans that he felt had let the war effort down, the perceived (and actual?) unjust terms of the Versailles Treaty, war reparations, and the resultant hyperinflation economic disaster. With Putin it is the let down by the politicians at the time of the Soviet collapse that allowed the empire to disintegrate, the perceived injustice of the former Soviet states joining the EU and NATO (where the populations want better lives) and as a result of soft energy prices and no modernization of Russian industry their needed 7% economic growing slowing down to nothing or worse.

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