There was a time, back when, that the Soviet Union was feared and respected. That fear and respect created and maintained what we refer to as the Cold War. It divided the world in a sense, but it also provided a peculiar sense of stability. Each side was aware of where the lines not to cross were located, and neither side dared make a serious attempt to undermine them. There was no question of a strong, forceful Soviet response. Therein lies the problem for modern day Russia.
To be frank, Russia's handling of the Ukraine crisis on its own border displays the sort of weakness one would normally associate with the bluster of North Korea. Strong words but no action to back it up. Russian special forces quickly moved into Crimea before the West could stop them. But that was pretty much it. The Crimean assault was really a "sneaky" move rather than a forceful move of principle. There was no grand declaration of principle by the Russian government, other than it would defend the rights of Russian speaking people's - which it quickly abandoned in Donetsk and Luhansk republics prolonging the war there and massively increasing civilian and military casualties. Russian support for the separatist forces in East Ukraine was again of the "sneaky" variety. Weapons, ammunition, advisers, and some special forces. A grey war if you will.
The problem with a grey war is that each side is left with the ability to interpret it as it will. In other words, Ukraine can scream Russia is invading it, while Russia can respond that it has no troops there. There is no serious projection of power, and serious statement made to the other side. They are playing "footsies" with each other. The message is that of weakness. Russia is being dictated to by the West and simply responding defensively. It does not project the image of an equal. It actually reinforces Obama's arrogant comment that Russia is a "regional power". Now, Russia is not a regional power, to be clear. Iran is a regional power, as is Saudi Arabia. Russia is a world power. But, Russia's weak response to Western infiltration of the buffer zone known as Ukraine tends to back Obama's message.
Another well publicized event took place in Estonia where us mechanized troops paraded within 300 meters of the Russian border. Ditto for similar flippant moves by Lithuania and even Finland. Now, despite prohibitions against foreign troops in accordance with the Minsk Accord, the United States is sending a full airborne battalion to Ukraine to "train" Ukraine forces. Britain is sending 75 troops for a similar mission. The response from Russia is...nothing.
If Russia wants the role of super power in the world, or even at the very least top dog in its own neighborhood, it needs to seriously project strength. That means incorporating a "doctrine" which will be defended at any time and any place. The doctrine must be in strict defence of its sphere of influence - otherwise, it doesn't have one. Without a sphere of influence its not even a regional power, but rather a state power. Hard to imagine for a country with the history and tradition of Russia. The truth is, the world really needs Russia to be that strong player in the world. The world desperately needs balance. The US has proven that as the sole power projecting strength in the world, it has failed to recognize the need to restrain its own ambitions. In other words, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Now, we live in a world that has no stability, because the rules have been thrown out the proverbial window. That is a failure by the US, but its also a failure of countries like Russia and China.
All of this is why I support the rise of a Eurasian bloc that includes countries like Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the like. It creates the counter balance so desperately needed in the world. Of course the Americans view this in the opposite light. So be it. All people in the world deserve a stable environment, not just Americans. In short, it's past time that Russia project serious strength. Allowing other nations to encroach on its borders is a sign of weakness, not strategy. It's being interpreted that way by its enemies as well. All of which creates a less stable world for the rest of us - including Russia.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)