Defensive Aggression of Russia

 

Context:

  • Keeping in mind the migrant crisis in Poland – Belarus border and the mobilisation of the Russian troops in the Ukranian border, it is important to analyse the Russian security strategies.

Background:

  • Catherine the Great, the 18th century empress of Russia once said “ I have no way to defend my borders but to extend them”. This principle is still alive w.r.t Russia as it is evident in the actions of Joseph Stalin and now Vladimir Putin.
  • Russia lacks natural boundaries except the Arctic in the north and Pacific in the east. Its heartland which runs from St. Petersburg through Moscow to Volga region lies on plains and is vulnerable to attacks.
  • The devastating attack by Napoleonic France in 1812 and again in 1941 by Nazi Germany, shows the vulnerability, even though both were defeated but it came at a huge material and human losses.
  • After the Second World War, Russia re-established its control over the rim land in Eastern Europe and Central Asia but following the disintegration of USSR its security calculations went into disarray.

 

Challenges Posed by NATO:

  • With collapse of USSR, the west had promised that it would not expand an inch towards the east but despite the promises it has continued to expand.
  • In 1999, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland which were members of Soviet led Warsaw Pact joined NATO.
  • Later seven more countries including three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all of which share borders with Russia were taken into the alliance.
  • Close ties of Ukraine and Georgia with the west has also angered Russia. (Membership to NATO was promised by US in Bucharest Summit, 2008)

 

Importance of Black Sea:
  • Traditional Russian rulers saw it as a Russian Lake.
  • Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria all black sea basin countries are NATO members.
  • Even Ukraine and Georgia share the black sea coast.
  • Russia which sees the Black sea as a gateway to Mediterranean Sea is being squeezed.

 

Russian Response:
  • South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the self proclaimed republics in Georgia is controlled by Russia.
  • In 2014 when Kremlin friendly regime was toppled in Ukraine, it responded with annexing Crimean peninsula.
  • In Ukraine the eastern Donbas region is in hands of pro Russian rebels.
  • Russia has sent thousands of peacekeepers to end war in Armenia and  Azerbaijan re-establishing its dominance in the caucus region.
  • With Russia’s support a migrant crisis was manufactured in Polish border of European Union.
  • And recently when violence broke out in Kazakhstan, the largest and wealthiest country in Central Asia turned towards Russia. Putin immediately dispatched troops under the banner of Collective Security Treaty Organization. .
Conclusion:
  • The US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has left central Asia republics deeper in the Russian embrace
  • Europe which is vocal in its opposition to Russia’s aggression is very much dependent on Russian gas.

Source: THE HINDU.

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