By Sarah Ann Haves
While the world is focusing its attention on the upcoming U.S. elections, the Cold War between America and Russia escalates. Current U.S. President Barack Obama has had serious differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And, those differences have caused Americans to be concerned that Russia may be considering military aggression against the United States, especially if Hillary Clinton becomes president in the November 2017 election.
In the meantime, Russia has established a strong naval presence on the coast of Syria, and has been aggressively attacking Syrian opposition rebel forces in order to help Syrian President Bashir Assad retain power in Syria before any long lasting truce can be established. Most analysts have said that Russia’s apparent claim that it is fighting against ISIS in Syria is not true, pointing to attacks on Syrian rebels even when a temporary cease fire has been in effect.
|Europeans are watching
a serious naval
build-up in the Baltic
While Russia increases its force strength in Syria, the Europeans are watching a serious build-up of Russian naval forces in the Baltic Sea that threatens the balance of power in northern Europe. In response to Russia’s upgrade of firepower in its Baltic Fleet, NATO is trying to assure European countries that border Russia that NATO is matching Russia’s aggression with its own military build-up. While some of Russia’s naval forces are armed with cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, analysts say that the ships are carrying conventional warheads only.
Still, the presence of Russian warships in the Baltic Sea has kept tensions high in the region, especially in countries like Sweden, Poland and Lithuania.
Russia has sent signals to Europe and the United States that it is prepared to go to war if it cannot continue, unabatedly, in its aggressive actions towards Syrian militant opposition forces. But, few analysts understand the underlying reasons why Russia is picking a fight with NATO at this time. Could it be that Russia wants to weaken NATO forces by knocking out American anti-missile defense systems that have been deployed in Europe?
At one time, U.S. President George W. Bush tried to put a U.S. missile defense system into Europe, looking at Poland and other countries as a possible frontline defense in any future attempt by Russia to attack European forces. Putin was so angry he threatened to take out the system with military force if Bush tried to deploy it. Bush never did, and passed the problem on to Obama.
In May 2016, despite Russian threats that the American missile defense system might trigger a possible future war with Russia, Obama activated the system in Romania. The U.S. is expected to do the same in Poland in the future.
The Russians have felt all along that the system would be used against its forces, despite American reassurances that it was simply deployed in Europe as a defensive not offensive measure. Furthermore, Putin believes that the deployed system is America’s attempt to solidify its military alliance with Eastern Europe, threatening Russia’s border. From Putin’s perspective it puts NATO in a dominant position if there becomes a confrontation with Russia in the future. The Russians think that the defense missiles the Americans have deployed could be re-equipped to strike control systems of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.
Reportedly, to assure Russia that the deployed U.S. interceptors at missile defense radar stations in Romania are not meant to undercut Russia’s deterrence forces, American officials have been willing to share technical data with Russian officers. Not only have the Russian’s refused, they are now taking aggressive actions, threatening NATO with war-like tactics.
The U.S., in its commitment to NATO, is concerned about Russian cruise missiles deployed on naval ships that can reach parts of Poland and the Baltic Sea. Therefore, it has encouraged the largest build-up of troops in Europe since the Cold War. The UK plans to send advanced military jets to Romania in 2017, while deploying hundreds of troops in Eastern Europe this year. Recently, a Russian fleet passed through the English Channel as a provocative move.
After Russia’s aggressive move of annexing the Crimean region from the Ukraine in 2014, there is great distrust of Putin’s motives among European leaders. NATO officials are watching as Russia increases its defense spending, conducts large scale exercises close to NATO borders, and carries out air drills throughout Russian territory to prepare its people for war. It seems that Russia is interested in neutralizing NATO, while at the same time, occupying Syria with its own advanced weapon systems.
As Poland has watched a Russian military build-up in Kaliningrad, along its border, reports indicate that thousands of Poles are joining local militias to prepare for a response to Russian aggression. Meanwhile, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have expressed concerns to NATO of their own needs for security because of the latest Russian military moves.
The U.S. has spent a reportedly $3.4 billion to deter Russian aggression against NATO, as part of the European Reassurance Initiative which puts military equipment in Central Europe, Poland, and the Baltic states. Norway is also beefing up its forces as it shares a border with Russia.
Israeli leaders have assured the Israeli public that relations with Russia are good, even with Russia’s military advances in Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to call on Putin in order to make sure there are no accidental clashes between forces of both nations over Syrian territory. But, Russia reportedly has a missile defense system deployed in Syria now, according to media reports, which would make it difficult for Israel to take offensive action against their northern neighbor in a crisis.
What Israel and Russia currently have in common is that both countries do not want militant Islam to destabilize their regions.
continue to head
As NATO looks seriously at the Russian build-up threatening Europe, Russian warships continue to head towards Syria. Middle East countries worry about a Russian escalation in Aleppo while Putin ignores calls for a lasting cease-fire in Syria. It is expected that a Russian battle group of naval ships will hit Syria in a few weeks, taking part in combat operations against Syrian rebels, which will ultimately result in indiscriminate attacks against Syrian civilians.
Israel has reason to be concerned that Russia’s latest naval deployment, carrying fighter bombers and helicopters, will be in fighting range of Israel’s defense forces. Russia continues to deny reports of its real intentions in Syria, which most analysts believe is to set up a mini-state for Assad, allowing him to stay in power. Along with that, Russia may be interested in taking more territory away from break-away states in the former Soviet Union, which would be easier for Putin if he could neutralize NATO forces in Europe.
Whatever intentions Putin has in the Middle East and Europe, it is important that Americans, Europeans, and Israelis do not become distracted by the U.S. elections, and instead, start focusing more attention on watching Russia.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
(c) 2015 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.