Time Magazine has an interesting article on “Russia’s Fifth Column” in the latest issue, by Simon Shuster.
The article explains Russia’s modus operandi for re-acquiring its former empire.
The annexation of the Crimea earlier this year and the ongoing problems in eastern Ukraine help give insight.
The idea is to use Russian-speaking people left behind when the Soviet empire collapsed. There are ten million of them in a number of eastern European countries. Three notable ones are the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These countries could see a repeat of Ukraine’s experience.
“… Russia’s military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine has sent the clearest message to Russians everywhere. Moscow has your back.”
The methodology is similar to Hitler’s 75 years ago – get local German (now Russian speakers) to claim discrimination and provoke conflict. Russia will do the rest, providing arms to local militias or even sending their own troops in, claiming they are locals protecting their own community.
The three Baltic republics are the most vulnerable. They are all members of NATO so, if Russia invades, the US and other NATO members are obliged to intervene on their behalf.
“Under Article 5 of the treaty that binds NATO together, Washington and its 27 allies are obliged to come to the defense of any member attacked by a foreign power. Should Russia invade Estonia or Latvia, perhaps using the rationale that it is protecting the Russian minorities in those countries – just as it did in Crimea – the West would face a sobering choice: go to war with a nuclear-armed state or back down and accept that NATO is no more.”
Based on this rationale, which makes sense, Putin could bring about the end of NATO quite quickly. If a Russian invasion of a NATO country does not see Article 5 invoked, it would mean the end of the alliance.
My wife and I are going away for a week starting tomorrow. I will not be posting again until Thursday December 18th.