After months of unnecessary tension between the USA and Russia over the Syrian situation, things have turned to hostility in the last 48 hours, and it’s time we pay attention to what’s happening. Although most analysts dismiss the hostile accusations, many people think that Russian president Vladimir Putin isn’t taking things so lightly.
And, while full-scale nuclear war seems far at this point, both countries are mobilizing military on several fronts. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at the series of events and statements in the last 30 days – they differ from the last ones significantly.
After accusing Russia of attempting to influence the presidential election which tarnished the reputation of party members as well as the candidate (Hillary Clinton), President Barack Obama took things up a notch.
“There are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that is proportional. It is certainly possible that the president can choose response options that we never announce,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told media on the Air Force One.
Two years ago, the Obama administration deemed hacking cyberterrorism and considers it a security priority. Some US officials have asserted that some cyber-attacks may provoke military response. However, without proof that it was Russia, any violent response by the USA would be considered a first strike, and given Russia’s dispute over the evidence, their follow-through could be considered an act of war. U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, spoke his mind on the potential response: “The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven’t faced in many, many decades. I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm … the United States military — despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing — we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that,”Milley told reporters.
He then went on to note that countries such as Russia, Korea or China, “have their own doctrines” and are “are rapidly modernizing their military today to avoid our strengths in hopes of defeating us at some point in the future.” He even quoted a Russian official who claimed that Russia is on par with any military in Europe and can win wars.
Whether or not Russia can win wars is not an issue at the moment, as NATO has been gathering troops on borders in Eastern Europe in order to protect nervous nations from invasion. Russia has seen this act as an aggressive nuclear threat, but the USA has laughed off these claims as absurd. “Across the Atlantic, we’re refreshing NATO’s nuclear playbook — to better integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence, to ensure we plan and train like we’d fight, and to deter Russia from thinking it can benefit from nuclear use in a conflict with NATO,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently stated. Russian officials fired back immediately: “Carter’s statement means that if Russia comes under attack from U.S. allies, the Americans will be ready to back it and threaten to use their nuclear weapons against us. We would like to think that Washington understands the meaning of such statements and their possible consequences for international security and stability.”
On Tuesday, high Russian officials and government workers were advised to pull family members back to the homeland. The same day saw Putin cancelling a trip to Paris due to the situation in Syria. As political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky noted, “this is all part of a package of measures to prepare the elites for some ‘big war’ even if it is rather conditional …”
Russia also issued 2 cautions which stated that the American endeavors in Syria could bring war. “I would like to caution Washington’s colleagues to carefully consider the possible consequences of such plans,” Russian Major General Igor Konashenkov said, and continued: “I remind U.S. strategists that air cover for the Russian military bases in Tartus and Hmeymim includes S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, the range of which may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects.”
Observers saw this statement as a warning that Russia won’t be afraid of striking first, since it would be justified as protecting a nation’s troops by request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The second statement includes the greater warning. Konashenkov has made it clear that “Russia has a number of servicemen and aid workers in several communities in Aleppo, and that ‘any strikes on territories controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat’ to Russian citizens.” He continued by warning the USA that Russia will take necessary measures to prevent further American “mistakes” against the Russian or Syrian army.
China, which previously wasn’t taking a side, has now given its support to Russia. Russia has indicated that it would back China over the territorial dispute in the South and East China seas, especially against meddling by the USA or South Korea, who will deploy the US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) amid contention from both rival nations, as well as theircitizens.
THAAD will be deployed as a preventative measure, but China and Russia are considering its proximity to the Chinese border an act of aggression, and plan to hold their second anti-missile drill in 2017. As Chinese Major General Cai Jun stated, “The United States’ blind development of anti-missile systems that exceed demand and its search for absolute unilateral military superiority inevitably damage global strategic equilibrium and gravely harm major powers’ strategic trust.”
As you can see, we are closer to a new world war as ever. As former Russian president Gorbachov said on Monday, “The world has reached a dangerous point”.