13:55 May. 20, 2016
NATO to deter constantly growing Moscow ambitions
In its both foreign and inner policy Russia does not follow the rules of logic, but is driven instead by President's Putin dangerous ibsession. This is according to the New York Times editorial staff.
On the surface the move seems a humanitarian gesture from two nations that are supposedly partners in ending Syria's bloody civil war. What it really does is highlight, once again, the duplicity of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, in Syria and elsewhere. Mr. Assad remains in power largely because of Russian military assistance. It is hard to believe that Mr. Putin, who fancies himself a man who can get what he wants, could not persuade Mr. Assad to let aid get through to the cities if he chose to try.
Syria is just one arena where Mr. Putin's obsessive quest to make Russia great again has fueled instability and reawakened political suspicions and animosities that faded after the fall of the Soviet Union.
A year after invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia signed an agreement in Minsk that was supposed to end the fighting. It is now violating that agreement; violence between Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces has reached its highest level since a 2015 cease-fire.
Russia is also engaging in aggressive and dangerous behavior in the air and on the high seas. Last week, British fighter jets intercepted three Russian military transport aircraft approaching the Baltic States. On April 29, a Russian warplane came within 100 feet of an American fighter jet over the Baltic Sea and did a barrel roll over the jet, which could have been catastrophic. Two weeks earlier, two Russian warplanes flew 11 simulated attack passes near an American destroyer in the Baltic.
Anxieties about Russia among NATO members in Eastern Europe had forced the alliance to make plans to deploy four combat battalions of roughly 1,000 troops each in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Two battalions will be American, one German and one British. They aren't enough to repulse a Russian invasion, but NATO hopes they will deter Moscow from crossing alliance borders. NATO is also proceeding with a European missile defense system intended to protect against Iranian missiles. Last week, a base in Romania became operational and ground was broken for a base in Poland. More and bigger military exercises are also on the agenda.
NATO's 28 members will meet in Warsaw in July, a good time to reassert resolve. In June, sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine will expire, and will need to be renewed, though NATO members would be wise to keep channels for dialogue with Russia open as well. Mr. Putin would have greatly improved his chances of regaining the international standing he craves had he diversified his country's economy and worked constructively with the West.