I don’t know about you, but for my entire life whenever I’ve heard someone prattle about “a world without nuclear weapons,” I roll my eyes for at least two reasons. One is the naivete; the other is the practical notion that in such a world, one “kook-with-nuke” would be king.
But it turns out that in Moscow, the Russian leadership sees the Obama offer as something else – yet another move in the game of trying to rein in Russian influence in the world.
In other words, the Kremlin sees this plan as a threat.
Wasn’t the Obama-Medvedev chumminess supposed to reflect a “reset” (?!) of the U.S-Russia relationship? What’s going on here?
More below the fold….
In today’s The Moscow Times, Russian journalist Alexander Golts has a rather pleading (and interesting) column trying to point out to the Russian leadership that Russia faces a real threat – not the phantom threat of NATO, but the real threat of North Korea and its missile program. (And as this distance calculator indicates, the direct flight distance from Pyongyang to Moscow is just a hair longer than that from Pyongyang to…. Anchorage.
But down near the end of the column is this striking penultimate paragraph:
Because Russia’s conventional forces are so weak, the Kremlin relies heavily on its nuclear arms for national security. The country’s nuclear arsenal is the only military component that gives it weight in dealing with the United States and China. This is precisely why Russia’s military strategists see Obama’s call for a decrease in nuclear weapons as another attempt to decrease Moscow’s influence. They fear that once Russia’s nuclear arsenal becomes equal to that of China, Britain and France, Moscow will end up on the sidelines of global affairs.
Now that’s interesting. Russia’s non-nuclear military forces have been in terrible shape (in terms of both equipment and personnel) for some time. As I’ve noted in these pages for at least a couple of years, until recently the only country upon which Russia has been able to exercise its will is tiny, impoverished Moldova (with regard to the Transdniestr region). Last August, Russia was able to run wild against Georgia – but only because the Georgian military is still poorly-equipped in comparison.
The only piece of the old Russian “big stick” that is still in reasonable shape is the nuclear arsenal; that’s the ultimate guarantor of Russia’s international status (particularly in Kremlin eyes).
Looks like another White House homework assignment wasn’t done….