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As seen from the Kremlin, over the past twenty years, the United States and NATO have undertaken numerous initiatives that underscore the threat from the West: NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and the Baltics; NATO partnership programs with states throughout the former Soviet Union; improvements in conventional, missile defense, and nuclear capabilities; support for antigovernment uprisings and regime change Russia.Specifically, Russian officials have argued that the U.Russia’s recent deployment of a nuclear-armed cruise missile that threatens NATO forces and facilities—in violation of the U.S.-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty—underscores Moscow’s intent to undermine alliance cohesion.In the summer of 2015, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U. General Martin Dempsey, and his successor, General Joseph Dunford, both described Russia as the greatest threat to U. Russian forces have staged unannounced (“snap”) exercises simulating the use of nuclear weapons in an invasion of the Baltic region.The Russian military has deployed additional missile and air defense assets and, most recently, nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad.Under NATO’s Readiness Action Plan, approved at the Wales Summit in September 2014, and the United States’ European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), the United States and its European allies are planning to allocate more than billion to (1) add a U. Brigade Combat Team to the two it already has stationed in Europe, along with an airborne brigade, and (2) pre-position permanent equipment for another combat brigade.
A sober understanding of those capabilities is essential to understanding drivers of Russian actions and crafting an appropriate Western response.
First, a military reform and modernization program launched in 2008, combined with significant increases in defense spending over the past several years, has improved the capabilities of Russia’s armed forces.
Second, in the past decade, Russia has demonstrated an unprecedented willingness to use force as an instrument of its foreign policy, as well as an improved capacity to project military power beyond its immediate post-Soviet periphery.
S.-led campaign in the Balkans in the 1990s, the U.
S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011, and U. support for the opposition in Syria and for the Arab Spring have threatened Russia’s security environment. President Donald Trump’s desire to improve relations with Russia will prove successful in lowering tensions and putting the U. S.-Russian confrontation is deeply rooted in fundamental differences over interests and values, clashing conceptions of the rules of international order, and each country’s views of its own exceptionalism. S.-Russian relationship is likely to remain adversarial and will play out largely in the geopolitical gray zone that now divides the Euro-Atlantic security order and Russia.