- - Thursday, October 13, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently made it very clear that Russia possesses a nuclear weapons capability. “Don’t forget that Russia is a nuclear power,” he has been frequently quoted as saying.

Russia has been rattling the nuclear saber constantly in recent weeks. Wednesday the Kremlin launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles to prove a point. All of the missiles worked and hit their targets. Russian nuclear capable bombers have skirted the coast of the United Kingdom, down to the Spanish main, and back again. The new version of the Satan missile will soon be operational, containing enough destructive capability to obliterate a country the size of France, with one shot, along with decoys to defeat an anti-missile capability.

Reports from Moscow are that the Russian public is being whipped into an aggressive frenzy by Russian state media in a bid to cast America as the real terrorist nation, supporting the Islamic State and threatening the national security of the Russian Federation. The “accidental” bombing of a Syrian army post by U.S. Air Force aircraft a few weeks prior didn’t help reduce tensions in Syria and played into the Kremlin’s hand.

The West subsequently accused Russia of war crimes in its bombing of hospitals and relief convoys in Aleppo. The Kremlin reacted furiously and demanded all employees of the Russian government that have children studying abroad should bring them home immediately.

Russian cyber warfare capabilities have been on full display as WikiLeaks drops thousands of emails a day, most likely emanating from a Russian hack, although they deny it. The Obama administration, in an opportunistic and overtly political move, publicly accused Russia of the email theft. It seems that any problem the Democrats enjoy has become Russia’s fault. The Kremlin is not amused and has heightened the rhetoric against anti-Russian hysteria.


SEE ALSO: Putin: Cyberattacks aren’t in Russia’s interests, U.S. using hacks to manipulate public


It seems that Russia is picking a fight. The question is why?

I believe Mr. Putin wants to fundamentally change the geopolitical chessboard as much as Obama wanted to fundamentally change America. Putin smells weakness. Playing a bad hand well; he has inserted Russia as the primary player in the Middle East. I think Vlad wants to use a nuclear threat to drive a wedge into Europe and shatter the NATO alliance.

He has already pulled NATO’s southern flank into his orbit. The bromance between Mr. Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in full bloom. Turkey and Russia just signed an agreement to complete the long dormant Turkish stream pipeline to help ensure an evergreen Russian, hydrocarbon revenue stream.

France and other European nations are making noises that it is time to end sanctions on Russia for its behavior in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry keeps trying and trying to get a “peace deal” in Syria and then Russia promptly torpedoes it by bombing a relief convoy and a hospital or two. Mr. Kerry doesn’t get it. Russia needs the Syrian conflict, for domestic consumption, but it aims to win it.

Mr. Putin sees the West as weak, unable to defend itself. He sees Russia as rising, at least militarily. If the uncontrolled migrations don’t destroy Western Europe and the United States, the stupidity of the Marxist left will, especially if Hillary Clinton is elected.

Mr. Putin is simply pushing forward with all stops to resurrect Russian global power. He is making hay while the sun is shining. Russia has modernized 30 percent of its conventional forces and actually recently increased military spending at the expense of the social safety net. Mr. Putin is playing for keeps. As his conventional forces become more and more modernized, his confidence in prevailing against a disorganized and feckless NATO will grow. And oh, don’t forget, Russia has nuclear weapons.

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.

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