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Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette

The Russians are deploying all of the Northern fleet and much of the Baltic fleet in the largest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War.

“This is not a friendly port call.”

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Russia is deploying ballistic missiles, attack submarines and aircraft carriers in big numbers, range and aggression not seen in a long while (and via the English Channel!). “This is not a friendly port call. In two weeks, we will see a crescendo of air attacks on Aleppo as part of Russia’s strategy to declare victory there,” says one foreign policy wonk. Analysts say that strategically, Putin’s air strikes are advancing Russia’s interests by protecting Assad and Russia’s Syrian port in Tartous, which boosts its access to the Black Sea that it controls after annexing Crimea. Stratfor has an interesting take here. Reuters nails it here. Bottom line: the Russians are ratcheting up risk in a big and bellicose way, adding to the clusterfuck  the bloodbath in Syria and the growing danger of miscalculation and unchecked escalation. And now the US Navy’s 6th Fleet is doubling its naval assets in the region (see map above) to counterbalance Russia’s thorny task force. Cold War 2.0 is on. 

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In the past two weeks relations between Russia and the United States have belly flopped. First the US broke off talks with Russia over ‘deconfliction‘ in Aleppo. Russia then disengaged from a critical nuclear armament negotiations related to a treaty that had been in place since 2000 as a part of a post-Cold War disarmament framework. In the last 48 hours, White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest said that the US is considering a response to alleged Russian hacking of US political groups such as the DNC. Now the Russians are deploying hardcore hardware to undermine and counter coalition efforts to root out the Muj. TIME Mag has an article here. Foreign Policy Mag has some good shit here. As a result, Russia is sliding into protracted stagnation  “Russian tactics are not a sign of resurgence, but of a chronic, debilitating weakness,” says one Kremlin pro. And Vlad, despite his country’s wobbly finances, still intends to wage “hybrid warfare” with the West. Basically the strongman is seeking to offset vulnerability at home with bellicosity abroad. This strategy will prove self-defeating for the autocrats, kleptocrats and oligarchs in the end. Read an excellent essay from The National Interest here. And this weekend The Economist will publish a special report on ‘Putinism‘ and Russia’s accelerating retardation.

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