12 November 2016

A New Black Sea Front within Cold War II


The tension increases as both sides continue a process of escalation. This build-up is reminiscent of what occurred in 1983 as US exercises, rhetoric and posturing pushed the USSR to a point of paranoid frenzy. This culminated with the shoot-down of Korean Air Lines flight 007 near Sakhalin.

The US had been pushing into the region and to this day the circumstances of the flight's course deviations remain both mysterious and controversial. Whether the plane was spying or part of a larger espionage project is still not clear. Even if it was engaged in a joint operation with US espionage, its destruction and the loss of 269 lives is hardly justified.

No one disputes the Russians shot it down but what needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that the US helped created the conditions in which Russia was jittery and on edge. Knowing their inferiority they feared US provocations and reacted in a reckless manner.

Some pointed to the 2014 destruction of MH17 over Ukraine as a parallel incident. If it was, then the US failed in its exploitation. While the shootdown (which took place just a few months after the US supported coup in Kiev) did indeed generate a wave of international outrage, it failed to rally sufficient support to generate a sincere and determined anti-Russian crusade.

All this is to say, that the continued escalation is creating the conditions in which once more the world may face the explosive tensions reminiscent of the KAL 007 incident. I recall the media frenzy and tension and wondered if it wouldn't degenerate into declarations of war.

I think the present situation might actually be worse and perhaps more dangerous were something similar to occur. And as tense as things were during the Cold War by the 1980s there were enough mechanisms and back channels in place to dampen any flare-ups or serious escalations.

The balance of power, the series of reciprocal fronts as well as the diplomatic rapport do not seem to exist at present.

It is also noteworthy that in addition to growing tensions around the Black Sea and talk of NATO fleet deployments there are also storm clouds forming over the Caucasus.

Despite the fact that Russia has already intervened to block NATO in Georgia, the Western Alliance seems ready to try and provoke Moscow once more. With so many fronts and means of reciprocity a Russian response will prove more troublesome than it did in 2008.

While Ukrainian and Georgian membership in the EU or even NATO would prove thorny at this time both the EU and the United States are working aggressively toward creating parallel 'partner' mechanisms that all but incorporate nations such as Ukraine and Georgia within the security and strategic economical framework. The US has worked with the non-NATO elements in Scandinavia toward the same end.

While this is all done in the name of countering perceived Russian aggression the view from Moscow is quite different and increasingly the figures within the Kremlin Establishment have to be feeling the pressure akin to being painted into a corner.

At this time it is unclear what a Trump presidency will mean for US-Russian relations. Rapprochement would help de-escalate the tensions but forces within the US Establishment may prove too strong even for someone like Trump. And already (as of this writing) it would seem that despite his promises of an outsider administration he is prepared to fill its ranks with figures associated with the GOP, Military-Industrial Complex and Wall Street Establishments. If a nationalist warmonger such as John Bolton is brought into the administration then a clear signal is being sent to both Moscow and the wider geopolitical scene.

1 comment:

  1. Black Sea Region is the focus....