J.D. Hall
United States
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
Probably not, but Putin is a cagey bastard.

http://us.cnn.com/2017/09/13/opinions/zapad-opinion-donnelly...

If the Russians do decide to come west, there really isn't much to stop them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andre
United States
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Stalin's maxim— "Quantity has a quality all its own" — applies to strategic psychology as well as material conflict.

I'd be curious to know how they arrive at the analysis that "The United States and NATO have tremendous advantages in any competition with Russia but need to regain the initiative."

I am not a follower of Russian army movements, weaponry, etc, but it would seem to me that they should have the ability to move alot of weapons and men somewhere quickly, anywhere along their western front.

Is NATO and the U.S. confident that, if hostilities ever came about, that another Iron Curtain would not descend on Eastern Europe? Cold War II?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andre
United States
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So Obama calling them a "regional player" was not far off the mark?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vic Lineal
Spain
Barcelona
flag msg tools
Nope. Nope nope nope nope.
Avatar
mb
There is such a tangible nostalgia for the Cold War in RSP.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andre
United States
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, NATO-Russian (potential) conflict has been the subject of many a game during the mid-80's.

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/71338/operational-land-wa...

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/210772/cold-war-games

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/49227/cold-war-and-nuclea...

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J.D. Hall
United States
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
viclineal wrote:
There is such a tangible nostalgia for the Cold War in RSP.

That's nothing compared to Putin's nostalgia for the old Soviet Union.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
flag msg tools
Scheiß Inselaffen!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sensible analysis:

Quote:
[...] the panic increasing in some quarters is out of proportion to the threat, and it could play into Moscow’s hands by amplifying perceptions of its military prowess.

In many ways, the Zapad drills are as much mind games as war games: a “massive psychological warfare operation,” in the words of Mark Galeotti. Part of the goal is clearly to spook the Baltics. The games’ underlying scenario imagines three fictional, Baltic-like countries that are being used as Western proxies to undermine the relationship between Minsk and Moscow, provoking a retaliatory Russian response. Given that framing, Moscow clearly means to communicate that it will aggressively fight any NATO-backed attempt to encroach further into its “near abroad.” The drills may also be meant to intimidate NATO-curious countries like Sweden and Finland who have lately toyed with the idea of joining the alliance.

Yet those psychological tactics are only as potent as we allow them to be, a point implicitly made by the Finnish Defense Minister when he criticized Western countries for “[taking] the bait completely” in overhyping Russia’s drills and conjuring nightmare scenarios in the press. Tabloid hysteria about Russia starting “World War Three” and panic about Moscow’s devious plans for a “Trojan Horse” in Belarus only benefits Putin by making him look stronger and more cunning than he actually is.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
flag msg tools
Scheiß Inselaffen!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
remorseless1 wrote:
viclineal wrote:
There is such a tangible nostalgia for the Cold War in RSP.

That's nothing compared to Putin's nostalgia for the old Soviet Union.


This is often overstated and misunderstood in the West.
1 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vic Lineal
Spain
Barcelona
flag msg tools
Nope. Nope nope nope nope.
Avatar
mb
remorseless1 wrote:
That's nothing compared to Putin's nostalgia for the old Soviet Union.


Salo sila wrote:
This is often overstated and misunderstood in the West.


Let's not let the actual Putin stand in the way of the Putin we long for.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oldies but Goodies ... Avalon Hill and
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
It's doubtful that Putin longs for the days of the USSR in toto. What he longs for is the power and prestige embodied both in the USSR and in its Imperial Russian predecessor. Russia once ruled over Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, eastern Poland, eastern Galicia, Ukraine, and Bessarabia. The USSR called the tune in Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. That's quite a large empire; and Russian history is the history of Muskowy and its expansion into a great empire. It's also the history of fighting eastward expansion by Poles, Lithuanians, and Germans. They're still imperialists at heart, and they still fear western encroachment.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
flag msg tools
Scheiß Inselaffen!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SPIGuy wrote:
It's doubtful that Putin longs for the days of the USSR in toto. What he longs for is the power and prestige embodied both in the USSR and in its Imperial Russian predecessor. Russia once ruled over Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, eastern Poland, eastern Galicia, Ukraine, and Bessarabia. The USSR called the tune in Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. That's quite a large empire; and Russian history is the history of Muskowy and its expansion into a great empire. It's also the history of fighting eastward expansion by Poles, Lithuanians, and Germans. They're still imperialists at heart, and they still fear western encroachment.


That's leaning toward cultural essentialism. We certainly find neurotic historical discourses in Russia, which have been damaging both for the people of Russia and those in its neighbouring countries, but Russia is hardly unique in that respect; and the particular neurosis of lost empire is found elsewhere, including in the country I live in.

Or to put it another way, the history you are recounting isn't all that different to many other once powerful countries. Which is not to say that I don't see differences in Russia; but certainly, the image of the "hungry Russian bear" clearly appeals to stereotypes which tells us as much about the person reproducing them as they do about Russia itself.

Or, to put it in yet another way, the problem with such cultural essentialism is that it is intellectually incurious: we don't need to think about why national and imperial discourses are so powerful in Russia today because, well, Russians, that's how they are, imperialist.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oldies but Goodies ... Avalon Hill and
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Salo sila wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
It's doubtful that Putin longs for the days of the USSR in toto. What he longs for is the power and prestige embodied both in the USSR and in its Imperial Russian predecessor. Russia once ruled over Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, eastern Poland, eastern Galicia, Ukraine, and Bessarabia. The USSR called the tune in Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. That's quite a large empire; and Russian history is the history of Muskowy and its expansion into a great empire. It's also the history of fighting eastward expansion by Poles, Lithuanians, and Germans. They're still imperialists at heart, and they still fear western encroachment.


That's leaning toward cultural essentialism. We certainly find neurotic historical discourses in Russia, which have been damaging both for the people of Russia and those in its neighbouring countries, but Russia is hardly unique in that respect; and the particular neurosis of lost empire is found elsewhere, including in the country I live in.

Or to put it another way, the history you are recounting isn't all that different to many other once powerful countries. Which is not to say that I don't see differences in Russia; but certainly, the image of the "hungry Russian bear" clearly appeals to stereotypes which tells us as much about the person reproducing them as they do about Russia itself.

Or, to put it in yet another way, the problem with such cultural essentialism is that it is intellectually incurious: we don't need to think about why national and imperial discourses are so powerful in Russia today because, well, Russians, that's how they are, imperialist.

Yes, there are other countries that could fall victim to a "lost empire" neurosis; but there are significant differences between Russia and other former imperial powers. Britain, for example, has had seventy years to accept the loss of its empire; more if you consider that its collapse started much earlier than 1945. In addition, the other imperial powers generally held colonies which were both distant from the motherland and clearly delineated as colonies. Russia, on the other hand, absorbed its "near abroad" into the Russian political system, either directly (Imperial Russia) or indirectly but firmly (Warsaw Pact). They have had approximately 28 years to accept this loss and have not done so graciously, particularly since they've been forced to watch the steady eastward march of NATO into the former Soviet bloc. While we in the west have a tendency to view NATO as collective security, Russians view it in altogether different terms - as an anti-Russian alliance, which was, in fact, its genesis and raison d'etre.

That's the semi-recent history. Add to it more recent Russian behavior when they feel that a line has been crossed. While their response to the Kosovo bombing campaign was limited to the Prime Minister ordering his Washington-bound plane to reverse course and return to Russia, their response to Kosovar independence was much more direct and much more forceful. They used the precedent created to justify counterattacking and overrunning the Georgian armed forces in defense of separatists in South Ossetia. This was followed by the thinly-veiled invasion of Crimea (another separatist movement, this one largely created on the fly) and are currently supplying arms and troops to the separatist movement in Donbas (a mixture of separatism and disenchantment with the Ukrainian government). All of these are reactions to what the Russians perceive as western "poaching" in their front yard, which in their long-standing opinion extends from the Baltic through the Balkans.

Whether we accept Russia's broad definitions of its front yard or not, they must certainly be considered; especially since Georgia and Crimea clearly demonstrate that Russia is willing to use force and is well positioned to do so. A regional power is still a power to be reckoned with in its own region. Putin seems to understand this better than we do, and he's taken advantage of it.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
flag msg tools
Scheiß Inselaffen!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SPIGuy wrote:
Yes, there are other countries that could fall victim to a "lost empire" neurosis; but there are significant differences between Russia and other former imperial powers. Britain, for example, has had seventy years to accept the loss of its empire; more if you consider that its collapse started much earlier than 1945. In addition, the other imperial powers generally held colonies which were both distant from the motherland and clearly delineated as colonies. Russia, on the other hand, absorbed its "near abroad" into the Russian political system, either directly (Imperial Russia) or indirectly but firmly (Warsaw Pact). They have had approximately 28 years to accept this loss and have not done so graciously, particularly since they've been forced to watch the steady eastward march of NATO into the former Soviet bloc. While we in the west have a tendency to view NATO as collective security, Russians view it in altogether different terms - as an anti-Russian alliance, which was, in fact, its genesis and raison d'etre.

That's the semi-recent history. Add to it more recent Russian behavior when they feel that a line has been crossed. While their response to the Kosovo bombing campaign was limited to the Prime Minister ordering his Washington-bound plane to reverse course and return to Russia, their response to Kosovar independence was much more direct and much more forceful. They used the precedent created to justify counterattacking and overrunning the Georgian armed forces in defense of separatists in South Ossetia. This was followed by the thinly-veiled invasion of Crimea (another separatist movement, this one largely created on the fly) and are currently supplying arms and troops to the separatist movement in Donbas (a mixture of separatism and disenchantment with the Ukrainian government). All of these are reactions to what the Russians perceive as western "poaching" in their front yard, which in their long-standing opinion extends from the Baltic through the Balkans.

Whether we accept Russia's broad definitions of its front yard or not, they must certainly be considered; especially since Georgia and Crimea clearly demonstrate that Russia is willing to use force and is well positioned to do so. A regional power is still a power to be reckoned with in its own region. Putin seems to understand this better than we do, and he's taken advantage of it.


In the 28 years after 1945, Britain fought a host of wars as its empire disintigrated while getting involved in new adventures such as Suez. And the neurosis of lost empire is still powerful even now when you look at the language used by the supporters of Brexit.

Regardless, your chronology is not incorrect, but it is selective and incomplete, ignoring examples of cooperation between Russia and Western countries. Moreover, it does not support the idea that "the Russians" are essentially "imperialist at heart", merely that the current government is currently pursuing what might be called an imperialist policy. The difference might seem wafer-thin to you, but the first is nationally based demonisation (that harks back to cold war stereotypes), the latter analysis.

The other problem is that it is founded on a value judgement: that it was up to Russia to come to terms with the loss of empire graciously (like civilised nations---although, of course, Western imperial centres rarely did such a thing), and that their failure to do so is an indication both of their true nature and their moral culpability. It ignores why nationalism and, if you like, imperialism resonate in Russian society and why Russian politicians can build policy based upon it: while one reason is the self-image developed of being citizens of a superpower, another is that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant not only the loss of territories (which, on a practical, personal sense, meant the dislocation of families) but also a massive fall in the standard of living amid extraodinary social and economic instability; abstract, national humiliation coincided with real, personal humiliation---that's a powerful and dangerous mix.
4 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
flag msg tools
Scheiß Inselaffen!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would add that with regard to Ukraine, the Russian language is more nationalist than imperialist: it is based on the discourse of the brotherhood of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples and their common origins in Kievan (not Kyvian!) Rus, which has only been fractured by outside influence (first of Poles, then Habsburgs, after that Germany and now the US and EU). Even beyond Ukraine, the concern is for russkii mir (the Russian world), that is the fate of Russian-speakers and ethnic Russians (different groups that are often elided into one, not only by the Kremlin, but also others in the "near abroad" and the West). Putin's current policy might be revanchist, but it is nationalist more than imperialist revanchism.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oldies but Goodies ... Avalon Hill and
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Salo sila wrote:
In the 28 years after 1945, Britain fought a host of wars as its empire disintigrated while getting involved in new adventures such as Suez. And the neurosis of lost empire is still powerful even now when you look at the language used by the supporters of Brexit.

I love it when someone else makes my point for me. In the immediate aftermath of the disintegration/dissolution of its empire, Britain refused to accept it as inevitable and struggled to regain its position as a world power. Over the past fifty or so years of that seventy-year period, reality and resignation have sunk in. The Russians are much closer to the beginning of this road and are still struggling to regain their position. Given another fifty years, it's likely that reality and resignation will have sunk in for them as well.

Quote:
Regardless, your chronology is not incorrect, but it is selective and incomplete, ignoring examples of cooperation between Russia and Western countries. Moreover, it does not support the idea that "the Russians" are essentially "imperialist at heart", merely that the current government is currently pursuing what might be called an imperialist policy. The difference might seem wafer-thin to you, but the first is nationally based demonisation (that harks back to cold war stereotypes), the latter analysis.

And what did the Russians gain from those periods of cooperation? Nothing. The western powers, the U.S. in particular, pushed for largely unilateral Russian disarmament and used the dismemberment of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR as a pretext to advance the NATO alliance rather than as a pretext to bring Russia into the western fold. We signed up a small horde of former Russian client states, making them anti-Russian allies rather than neutrals, deployed new missile defense systems within them, by-passed the Russians on Kosovar independence, and armed the Georgian military. In short, we practiced isolation and containment while the Russians were too weak and too fractured to do anything about it.

Now, the chickens have come home to roost. The Russians have decided that cooperation with the west is a losing strategy. Militarily, the U.S. and NATO are still practicing containment. Economically, the Europeans are embarked on a beggar-thy-neighbor policy.

Further, your assumption that I'm simply demonizing the Russians with Cold War stereotypes is based on a further assumption: that Russia's long-standing policy of imperialism and acquisition of client states to its west is identical in nature to the western style of imperialism best exemplified by Britain and France. It is not. Those states, whether they be Russian in language, ethnicity, character or not, represent a buffer against western intrusion and invasion, which is a constant throughout Russian history. They are the obverse of the western containment strategy, one which seeks expansion in order to protect the Russian heartland.

The Warsaw Pact imposed severe costs on the USSR. Russia propped up its allies with economic and military aid in order to keep any threat to Russia far to its west and to transfer that threat to the west itself. Russian fears were, to an extent, justified. Lest we forget, Winston Churchill among others advocated a preemptive war against Russia. He even had the British military draw up plans for a combined U.S. and British attack on Russian forces in eastern Germany, to be assisted by recently-defeated German forces. Lest we forget, the U.S. had the atomic bomb well before the Russians. Lest we forget, the "missile gap" was a falsehood, and U.S. nuclear capabilities were always greater than those of the Russians. And lest we forget, U.S. policy called for the use of those nuclear weapons in the event of a European war. Given subsequent revelations about British defectors and Russian spying, we must assume that the Russians were aware of most or all of this at the time.

Quote:
The other problem is that it is founded on a value judgement: that it was up to Russia to come to terms with the loss of empire graciously (like civilised nations---although, of course, Western imperial centres rarely did such a thing), and that their failure to do so is an indication both of their true nature and their moral culpability. It ignores why nationalism and, if you like, imperialism resonate in Russian society and why Russian politicians can build policy based upon it: while one reason is the self-image developed of being citizens of a superpower, another is that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant not only the loss of territories (which, on a practical, personal sense, meant the dislocation of families) but also a massive fall in the standard of living amid extraodinary social and economic instability; abstract, national humiliation coincided with real, personal humiliation---that's a powerful and dangerous mix.

I made no value judgment and do not believe that any major power graciously accepts a loss of empire in the short term. This is precisely why I mentioned that Britain has had a much longer period of time to accept its loss.

I do not disagree with the remainder. I would only caution that majorities in most European nations are against war with Russia in the event that Russia invades Ukraine or another of the component states of the former USSR. Putin will be well aware of this and will continue to search for more opportunities to present the west with a fait accompli like Crimea - especially if the worst he can expect is more largely symbolic sanctions.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Damien
United States
Knoxville
Tennessee
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great post
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J.D. Hall
United States
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
Salo sila wrote:
Even beyond Ukraine, the concern is for russkii mir (the Russian world), that is the fate of Russian-speakers and ethnic Russians (different groups that are often elided into one, not only by the Kremlin, but also others in the "near abroad" and the West). Putin's current policy might be revanchist, but it is nationalist more than imperialist revanchism.


Hmmm....that reminds me: German-speakers living in the Sudentland.

Thank you all for your responses. Excellent discussion.

I am not hysterical nor seeing the "Big Red Machine" in current events. But what makes Russia NOT a regional power is its nuclear capability. It is the second-leading nuclear power in the world, far exceeding all other nations except the US. That gives pause to friend and foe alike. It also gives Russia an extreme defensive measure that all but guarantees no serious threat to invade and attempt to conquer. And even under the drunken fumblings of Boris Yeltsin, the Russians maintained their nuclear strike force, and Putin has made strides in modernizing that capability.

In that context, it understandable that Russia's neighbors are nervous when the Russian military holds large exercises near their borders. There is no real military threat to the Russian Republic, yet the Russians continue to upgrade and expand conventional military capabilities, maintain and expand its nuclear military capability, and have invaded three of its former client states over the past decade or so. As he did in Syria, Putin will take advantage of any opening he sees.

The Russian economy also comes into play. Economic diversification -- to reduce its dependence on oil and gas sales -- is happening, but is making slow progress and, as during the Soviet phase, quality is still not up to the standards of Western nations. Politically, Russian leaders have always used the threat of invasion or military action against the country as a ploy to deflect their citizens' attention from shortcomings in the economy. Perhaps with the nominal increase in crude oil and natural gas prices, the leadership will feel less pressure to keep its saber-rattling and disinformation programs going at the current rate.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.