Russian to the Top: The Prospect of Cold War II
Where is this all going? As the Kremlin authorizes a number of questionable military actions around and outside the Russian borders, leaders in the European Union are starting to ask themselves the inevitable question. But is all this hassle simply to ensure the safety of Russians outside the homeland, as Putin claims, or is there a hidden purpose behind it all?
2014 has been a turbulent year for the Russian powers. From hosting the Winter Olympics, to banning gay marriages, joining forces with Iraq and Syria’s opposition to fight against the IS, annexing ex-Soviet territory from Ukraine, being accused for systematically breaching international airspace and forced to stop the development of a promising pipeline that would cost billions, the Kremlin seems to barely rest, even in the final weeks of the eventful year.
As the countdown towards the final days of December begins, tensions in Northern Europe rise as many countries are turning a suspicious eye towards Russia.
Finland was the one to speak first, as President Sauli Niinisto issued a warning towards the European Leaders regarding the threat of a second Cold War coming their way.
“Putin keeps saying the west and NATO are hostile,” he stated to the Guardian. “[He says] they have deceived Russia with NATO enlargement and they are undermining and humiliating Russia.”
Earlier this year, in August, Helsinki alerted of a Russian jet, crossing the Finnish borders without authorization, which caused a military response – sending Hornets to escort the trespasser out. “The Russians turned back,” said Niinisto, in response to the breach. “If they had not, what would we have done? I would not speculate.”
Finland, who completed their separation from the then-Russian empire in 1917, have been maintaining close relations with the Eurasian giant, are still under a significant amount of influence by Moscow. This is particularly noted in their gas supply, which is entirely supplied by Russian companies.
Despite the words of their Prime Minister, many Finnish citizens still refuse to accept and vote to join NATO, which is penciled down to their fear of Kremlin’s reaction.
The Western world missed Abkhazia. Among violence and bloodshed in Ukraine, many people failed to notice the short-lived, but significant uprising in the breakaway Georgian province that caused a change of president in June this year.
If they didn’t, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise that only a week ago, Abkhazia’s new president, Raul Khadzhimba, shook hands with fellow ex-KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, agreeing a ‘de facto’ annexation of the region to Russia, officially claimed to be a military integration with the purpose of synchronising defense and foreign policies with Moscow.
Abkhazia separated from Georgia in 1993, as an aftermath to a violent separatist war, not unlike the events that lead to the current Ukrainian crisis and the annexation of Crimea. Ever since, they have functioned as a province with internal government.
Last week, Deutsche Welle reported that an estimated number of three Estonians have voluntarily jointed their national army each day in 2014, due to the rising fear that Russia will sooner or later turn hostile towards the country.
Tensions rose even more as earlier in November, Dutch jets intercepted a Russian plane trying to breach Baltic airspace, travelling towards Estonia without authorization and refusing to share its flight plan, which was later revealed to be Kaliningrad, the Russian base on the Baltic shore.
Russian officials from the national defense ministry denounced the accusation, stating that “the flight passed along an established route over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea in strict accordance with international rules of airspace use.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later stated that police have recorded more than 400 Russian military flights unreasonably close to the Baltic airspace, which they state to be almost twice as many as last year. According to him, this is a “risky and unjustified” occurrence that has not been seen since the time of the Cold War.
Estonia was conquered by the Soviet Union in 1944, an action condemned by the United States, United Kingdom, and France at the time. As the 1980s approached they assisted representatives of Estonia in establishing it once again as a Republic.
As the leaders of these countries are keeping a watchful eye on Kremlin and its questionable military decisions, one person decided to put it all in perspective. “Russia’s course of action is calling into question the European peace order and is breaching international law,” said Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor last week.
But is a new military conflict brewing in the European future? That remains to be seen.
Picture: Remy Steinegger @ Wikimedia Commons.