Russia already has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. This is not enough for V V Putin. He wants to be able to blow up the whole world even more times. He has announced plans to expand the nuclear arsenal even further. This is insane and extremely costly. The Russian economy faces headwinds with permanently low oil and gas prices. The Rouble has recovered only a little of the ground it lost in the last two years. Russia has spent huge amounts on the Olympics and on the conflicts in the Ukraine and Syria. The last thing this nation needs is yet more arms.
Which nuclear power is going to attack Russia? It is daft. This is puerile posturing. I have more nukes than you have got. It is true that the United States engages in the same game.
The Kremlin provokes NATO by attacking the Ukraine. Though Moscow denies its soldiers are in eastern Ukraine it admits volunteers are there. The Kremlin lied about these so called volunteers. The evidence was so indisputable that even the Russian Government was compelled to tell the truth about this in order to retain a shred of credibility. Putin’s junta provokes NATO by annexing the Crimea – again Moscow denied its troops were there for a long time. Moscow was then obliged to come clean and say that is soldiers were there. Admittedly the Ukraine is not a NATO country but was in accession talks. It is easy to see why the Ukraine would wish to join since it was in jeopardy from Russia and has indeed been attacked by its neighbour.
Cyber attacks on the Baltic states and a statement that these countries’ independence may be illegal and must be reviewed were also provocations of NATO. NATO Has not attacked Russia with even cyberattacks.
The FBI and the CIA say that Russian hackers broke into the Democrat National Committee’s emails.The aim was to tip the election towards Trump. No one doubts the authenticity of the information leaked by these hackers. Putin says there were no Russian hackers. I do not know if the hackers were Russian. It was certainly to Russia’s advantage that the United States elect a disreputable fool like Trump. Moreover, he says he is a huge admirer of Putin. Trump is so fickle that he could totally change his tune. If so then Moscow has ample material to embarrass Trump. Trump is a self-proclaimed sex criminal. He is a pathological liar and a race baiter. If there is any contretemps with Russian then the Kremlin can easily remind the world what a fiend Trump is.
The United States cancelled the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 2001. This was an error and has exacerbated the situation.
The USA tried to be conciliatory. Obama cancelled the planned missile shield for eastern Europe in 2009. He tried to press the reset button on relations with Russia. This did not mollify Putin.
Putin plays a long game. His aims are consistent – to rebuild Russian hegemony in the former USSR. In this he has been semi successful. He has been able to do so partly because the Russian media is entirely compliant. The press corps act as cheerleaders for the government. They never question discretionary wars in the Ukraine or Syria. Government spokespeople are not asked awkward questions. They never doubt the veracity of official statements. The government is not troubled by legal or ethical constraints. The countless very well attested atrocities by the Syrian Government are denied as NATO atrocity propaganda. The many horrific crimes of ISIS are fully reported and perhaps even exaggerated. The Russian media operates as a Kremlin mouthpiece. Pesky journalists know what fate awaits them.
Russia does not need such a huge military. Neither does the United States. Russia needs to diversify its economy and improve is public services. Tackling corruption, tax evasion and the demographic death spiral should all be priorities. Propping up a horrific oppressor in Syria should not be a priority. It is true that ISIS is even worse than the Ba’athists. Syria does not border Russia. The Russian bases in Syria are not that valuable. So much of this is an ego trip for both the USA and Russia. They both want to feel they are mighty and can project power. It is the ordinary people who suffer by having their resources squandered on wars that would easily be avoided.
In the USA people at least question what their government is doing. Do we really need to fight these foreign wars? There are people who dissent and call for disengagement. There is no comparable anti-war movement in Russia. The anti war demonstrators are not necessarily right. The important thing is that they exist and are free to voice their opinions free from any state interference.