Russian efforts to influence elections and national referendums in Europe and the United States has become a great international anxiety. The daily onslaught of concocted and misleading news and the hacking of anti-Moscow political parties’ computer systems has become a deep concern for Western governments. This is an election year for France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other European nations. Moscow was working overtime to influence the American presidential election, according to U.S. intelligence reports, and now continues its efforts against continental Europe.
Though Russia has denied these allegations as Russophobic, that Moscow’s goal is to weaken the E.U. and NATO, diminish confidence in Western democracies, and reduce the strength of American and European alliances has been noted by many security experts. Russia’s moves have now made the country second only to America in world geopolitics. The nation’s hacking of the American election, its support for mass human slaughter in Syria, its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and its usurpation of Crimea have caused grave concern for American military strategists. In addition, Vladimir Putin continues exploring strategic avenues from the Arctic North to Pacific South to recover the lost glory of the old Kremlin. (See “Russia’s Arctic Interests” in this issue.)
Russian’s contracted economy due to falling oil prices and Western economic sanctions could eventually threaten Putin’s popularity at home, and so he shores up his power by crafting foreign war hysteria with the Kremlin’s well-oiled propaganda machine. He plans to keep Russia well away from Western-style democracy in order to perpetuate his intended lifelong rule. The recent demonstrations in Russia on March 24 were the largest outpouring of anti-Putin sentiment since 2011. That it took six years for the opposition to manage to mount significant protests again demonstrates just how well the Russian President suppresses his domestic detractors.
For NATO and the United States, all important avenues of negotiations with Moscow have virtually been closed. In the face of Russia’s escalations, this is an even more dangerous phenomenon between two major nuclear nations. The breakdown in communication risks allowing a minor incident to flare into a major military escalation. Both sides are currently to blame. After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia’s invitation to the G8 was withdrawn; Russia then did not attend last year’s Nuclear Security Summit in the United States; and now Moscow has been excluded from the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Material of Mass Destruction.
The threat of nuclear war is the highest it has been since 1953. The reestablishment of nuclear cooperation between the Kremlin and Pentagon would not only serve American interests, but provide security and stability for the whole world.
— Probir Kumar Sarkar