Is Russia actually a threat to Europe? Euromaidan Press
Flag graphic Russia EU US

The past few years we have seen the resurrection of the same feelings, mentalities and behaviours of the Cold War. Back in the Cold War, possibly the Soviet Union was an actual threat to the Europe, the United States and the free market democracies across the world. However, can we actually say that modern-day Russia is a threat to Europe? European and American leadership under the Obama administration have been claiming that Russia is aggressive and an actual serious threat to the region, considering what happened to Ukraine. The question though is, was Russia the aggressor or got provoked to take action in Ukraine by annexing Crimea? Once again, the European and American leadership (Obama administration) will claim that Russia was the aggressor. Nevertheless, there are counterarguments, opinions, sources that claim otherwise. That Russia is probably not the actual threat of Europe as it is portrayed.

The NATO military built up in Europe across the Russian border is explained by the European and American leadership (Obama Administration) as a counter response to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. However was it Russia’s aggression or did Russia get provoked? It has been portrayed that it is only the fault of the Russian “dictator” Vladimir Putin. However, it could be argued that provocative ideas, plans, proposals of Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union and NATO would eventually trigger Russia and as it was expected Russia and the ethnic Russians of Eastern Ukraine would react as they actually did. As it was the wish of the vast majority of Crimeans, 82% of them Russian speakers to rejoin with Russia of which they were part for most of the two centuries. For geostrategic reasons Russia could have never allowed the EU and NATO to take over Ukraine and to see its Crimean warm water ports taken over by NATO. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been gradually surrounded, seeing its former territories and satellites being absorbed by the EU and NATO. During Russia’s recovery phase after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was unable to react to the EU and NATO constant enlargement around their border. Seeing Ukraine, a very important geostrategic country also falling to the hands of the EU and NATO would have been utter disaster for Russia.

The United States pushed NATO to build up troops in Europe, across Russia’s border, held war games in its backyard and deployed aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean Sea. Those actions are suppose to be a message to Russia of what the United States is capable of, and it could be argued that it is an aggressive behavior from NATO and the United States towards Russia rather than it being vice-versa. The NATO European command General Philip Breedlove explains the rationale behind such actions as, “it has all been to send a signal of deterrence to Russia”. Has Russia actually taken any aggressive action to explain NATO’S aggressive policy? It has been over two years since Russia annexed Crimea, since then Russia has not caused any turmoil and it has been relatively quiet in the area. According to the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, “there is no intelligence that suggests Russia is planning any broad-scale aggression whatsoever”.

If the claim of NATO-General Petr Pavel is correct, then what have the US and NATO trying to do by perusing such aggressive policies towards Russia? The answer could be worrying for Europe and the United States, that NATO with the guidance of the United States had been trying to provoke Russia into a war in Europe on purpose, which is always a possibility, or another possibility is that the Saudi's are pressuring the United States to get rid of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If the United States accommodates that request from its good friend Saudi Arabia, then a direct conflict with Russia would be imminent, as Russia has made it very clear that the US isn't to take Assad out militarily.If the US knows it is going to go ahead and topple Assad at the behest of the Saudi's, then it would make sense to have an already established force surrounding Russia's border to deter any immediate action.

Despite what the portrayal of Russia as the major threat, most Europeans see Russia as a “minor” threat compared to the Islamic State, the refugee crisis, a survey suggest. About seven out of 10 people in the EU named IS, which carried out attacks in Paris and Brussels, as a “major” menace ina new study by US think tank Pew. More than half of Europeans consider the climate change, economic uncertainty and cyber-attacks were “dire” threats. A little less than half also named the number of refugees coming from Iraq and Syria as a “major” challenge. But just one in three EU nationals put “tensions with Russia” in the same category.

What should be understood is that it is in the best interest of the EU countries, non-EU countries and Europe as a continent that relations with Russia are kept good and strong. Europe is facing a very dangerous threat of Islamic Terrorism, Russia is also facing this common threat, so it does not benefit either side for relations to be strained, but it benefits Europe and Russia to work together to tackle this very serious threat of Islamic Terrorism. The same should be mentioned for the United States which has seen a very radical change and aggressive behavior towards Russia under the Obama administration, and it is in the very best interest for the United States to change its policy of working together with Russia to defeat the common threat as which is Islamic Terrorism. This is an issue that affects Europe, Russia, the United States and we cannot afford divisions among great powers and influential global countries and what is needed is cooperation to defeat Islamic Terrorism and restore peace and stability in the Middle East as well as in the European continent which has also seen dangerous instability in Ukraine and the wider region.