U.S. and NATO Plan Long-Term Political and Economic Isolation of Russia and a New Cold War – Opinion

If there is one lesson that Putin’s War, that is, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, should have taught us, it is that it is no longer possible to think of Russia as a member of any security or economic system. Russia has proven itself to be a rogue actor with no regard for other nations’ rights and, in the best Tsarist tradition, sees treaties as an illegal infringement upon its freedom of action that it only signs out of weakness and breaks at the first opportune moment.

NATO is finally seeing the consequences of this behaviour since 2008’s Russian invasion. It needs to prepare for another Cold War, in order not only to stop Russia but also protect other countries from its terror and depredations. The Washington Post has color commentary as well as background information in the story headlined U.S. Allies Plan for Long-Term Isolation of Russia.

At NATO and the European Union, and at the State Department, the Pentagon and allied ministries, blueprints are being drawn up to enshrine new policies across virtually every aspect of the West’s posture toward Moscow, from defense and finance to trade and international diplomacy.

Outrage is most immediately directed at Putin himself, who President Biden said last month “can’t remain in power.” While “we don’t say regime change,” said a senior E.U. diplomat, “it is difficult to imagine a stable scenario with Putin acting the way he is.”

However, the Kremlin leader’s new strategy is far more than that. Planners continue to refine seminal documents to be presented over the next few months. Biden’s first National Security Strategy, legally required last year but still uncompleted, is likely to be significantly altered from initial expectations it would concentrate almost exclusively on China and domestic renewal. The Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, sent last month in classified form to Congress, prioritizes what a brief Pentagon summary called “the Russia challenge in Europe,” as well as the China threat.

While this break was probably coming anyway, Putin’s War has brought into more precise focus the nature of Putin’s Russia.

But the long-term strategy is being drawn up even as the allies address the immediate crisis with escalating sanctions against Moscow, weapons aid to Ukraine, and the deployment of tens of thousands of their own troops to NATO’s eastern border. According to statements by public leaders and discussions with eight U.S. foreign officials (some of which spoke under anonymity in order to discuss closed-door plans), many of these measures are expected to remain permanently in effect.

“At the end of the day, what we want to see is a free and independent Ukraine, a weakened and isolated Russia and a stronger, more unified, more determined West,” Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We believe that all three of those objectives are in sight.”

A strategic restructuring has taken place within NATO. No matter what the German communists are trying to do, Eastern Europe shows leadership and initiative. Poles have emerged as leaders of those states most vulnerable to Russian aggression. Russia’s actions have virtually assured that Finland and Sweden will become NATO members this summer. Russia’s behavior has given most of NATO a new focus and a new reason to exist.

A senior European official said that “the one lesson we take away from a Russian aggression that many thought could not be possible, is that here is a country that is ready to do something that no security guarantee or even plausible expectation [can ensure] that it can’t happen again.”

“We thought interdependence, connectiveness, would be conducive to stability because we had correlating interests. Now, we’ve seen this is not the case. Russia was highly connected with Europe, a globalized country.” the official said. “Interdependence, we’ve now seen, can entail severe risks, if a country is ruthless enough. … We have to adapt to a situation that is absolutely new.”

Many European policy-makers stated that their calculations today are affected by two main factors. First, the assumption that any ceasefire in Ukraine will be short-term. Many Europeans think that Putin will regroup and rebuild his Russian military once he is ready.

It will be very hard for France and Germany, which are weaker sisters than France and Germany, to ignore this new arrangement due to the actions of Russia’s Army in Ukraine.

The second is a deep horror at the Russian military’s atrocities against civilians that have come to light since its forces pulled back toward eastern Ukraine in the past two weeks. Many people believe that Putin could be facing war crimes charges before the international tribunals.

It is an optimistic, but silly idea to imagine Putin being held accountable for his crimes. It isn’t going to happen. Interpol Red Notices can be filed against commanders of Russian units that were known to have been deployed in war zones where crimes were found. Under precedent established in the Far East war crimes tribunals, it isn’t necessary that a commander order criminal acts to be convicted, all that is necessary to prove is that the crimes took place and he neither investigated nor prosecuted the culprits. The use of facial recognition software to identify dead Russians in images and videos containing war crimes makes it easy to connect them with a unit.

We can’t plausibly maintain a situation where Russia is both a trading partner with the West and, at the same time, insists that it has a “right’ to a “sphere of influence” that lets it establish the foreign and domestic policy of smaller states that border it. Russia must let go of its belief that Russia’s aging nuclear arsenal is important if it wants to trade and engage with the West in cultural and commercial exchange. If it doesn’t, then it’s welcome to become a Chinese fiefdom with all that will entail.

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