March 14, 2020

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Back in the final days of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union negotiated an agreement. The Soviets would withdraw from Eastern Europe and dismantle the Warsaw Pact, and in return the Americans would stop the NATO expansion and the encirclement of the Soviet Union. Both sides were to ease the tensions and build up relations. However, what happened next was that the Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe triggered a series of nationalist revolts throughout the USSR. The unintended consequence here was the break-up of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of this collapse, NATO quickly moved into the former Warsaw Pact member states and even expanded into the former Soviet states in the Baltics. From the perspective of the new NATO members, joining the alliance made sense, given their past experiences with the Soviet Union. But from Russian perspective this was an utter betrayal.

Fast forward to 2005, the Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster. But Putin wasnt referring to the collapse of communism. He was referring to the fact that almost three centuries of Russian expansionist policy was reversed in a matter of days. Russia was basically retracted to its 17th century borders.

The Russians could have accepted the situation as it was. However, in 2003, the Rose revolution unfolded in Georgia. A year later the Orange revolution hit Ukraine. And the Baltic countries joined NATO. Imagine what the Russian leadership was thinking. About two decade ago they were betrayed and lost their global empire. Now NATO was moving into the remaining former Soviet states. The only thing that the Baltics, Ukraine and the Caucasus add to NATO is to increase a multi-vector offensive strategy on the Russian Federation. From Russian perspective this was the old NATO strategy of encirclement, and if things kept going at this speed, the very existence of the Russian Federation would be in question in a matter of years. This is what Putin was referring to. It was a wake up call for the Kremlin to reassert itself or perish in history.

Decisions Kevin MacLeod (
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