There shouldn’t be any doubt that Russia will respond in a tit-for-tat fashion to the US’ possible deployment of previously banned short- and -intermediate missiles anywhere in the world and especially in Europe after President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Shamanov all literally said as in several statements over the past couple of weeks.
Russia reserves its legitimate right to do so in order to maintain strategic parity between it and the US and therefore reinforce global stability in an increasingly chaotic world, but it’s also walking into an unavoidable infowar trap by doing this. There isn’t any alternative to Russia’s tit-for-tat response otherwise it risks undermining its own national security interests, though its defensive reaction will almost certainly be reframed by the US as an “aggressive” one as Washington incessantly continues its anti-Russian fearmongering campaign in the EU.
It’s not Russia that wants to return Europe to being conceptualized as a conventional battleground in the New Cold War just like it was in the old one, but the US, though it’s unlikely that America actually intends to make it one but is instead seeking to exploit this sentiment for its own self-interested hegemonic reasons.
Pushing the narrative of “Russian aggression” and pointing to “proof” of Moscow’s deployment of short- and -intermediate range missiles (conveniently leaving out the tit-for-tat part) could allow Trump to squeeze his country’s NATO allies for even more funding than ever before, as well as advance his administration’s “cost plus 50” plan to have every country hosting American troops pay the base cost of doing so plus an additional 50% premium. In parallel, the US’ military-industrial complex can also pressure its partners to purchase more American weapons on this pretext, which could create jobs that Trump could promote as part of his re-election campaign.
Nevertheless, the end effect would be the same, and that’s to accelerate the militarization of the Eurasian Rimland with a specific emphasis on the European part that most directly concerns Russia’s strategic security. The point in doing so is to compel Russia to compete in a new interconnected arms and space race and spend the requisite funds to “keep pace” with American-led developments in this sphere, which could combine with the existing and proposed sanctions regimes against the country to deprive the government of some of the financial resources that it allocated to President Putin’s “Great Society” socio-economic development program.
The end goal is to shape the perceptions of average Russian citizens and influence their electoral behavior ahead of the country’s inevitable political transition at the end of President Putin’s fourth and final term in office in 2024, hoping that this can eventually be weaponized to strategically advantageous ends for America.
That’s the plan, at least, but it’s far from foolproof and has a credible chance of failing to accomplish all of what it sets out to do. For starters, Russian decision makers are confident in the knowledge that their world-class hypersonic missiles are more than adequate to ensure the long-term security of the country and that there’s no need to redirect funds away from the “Great Society” and back into the military-industrial complex. This makes a new arms and space race between it and the US more of a political fantasy than anything, albeit one that unaware civilians could easily be convinced into believing.
As such, it’s absolutely integral that the Russian state harnesses its domestic and international information capabilities to convey this truth to their intended audiences, doing what must be needed to debunk the false notion that Russia would be responding “aggressively” through its tit-for-tat policy and reassuring everyone that it doesn’t intend to participate in an arms and space race.
To be sure, Russia is already trying to do that and has succeeded on the home front, but the odds of success are stacked against it abroad. The EU is increasingly suppressing Russia’s publicly funded international media platforms and private Alt-Media ones alike that share statements by Russian representatives to the aforementioned effect, leading to a situation where the European public is unlikely to directly hear Russia’s position on these important issues without it being manipulatively distorted by their anti-Russian Mainstream Medias.
As for the decision-making element of Russia’s targeted audience, most European leaders are unable to resist the US’ Hybrid War pressure upon them and will probably go along with America’s plans whether they want to or not, especially if Trump weaponizes economic instruments against them such as unrelated secondary sanctions pertaining to Iran and Venezuela for instance in order to get them to strategically submit.
Having said that, it can’t be discounted that the US’ hegemonic demands will partially backfire if some independently minded leaders like Germany’s publicly speak out against this in defense of their own objective national interests, basing their opposition on the need to avoid a costly and dangerous return to the Old Cold War’s conventional threats in Europe and not risk worsening already strained relations with Russia that could otherwise be improved to the economic advantage of average citizens.
Given its hefty economic sway, bloc-wide leadership, and hosting of so many US troops, Germany is the only country that can conceivably set the precedent for this to happen and encourage others to follow in its path, but it’ll probably have no effect on Three Seas leader Poland who will try to position itself as the “New Germany” vis-à-vis its rising military-strategic importance to the US. Even so, as long as Russia avoids being dragged into a new arms and space race, then America will be deprived of its sought-after “victory”.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.