Russia continues to make big news that stays under the wave tops of COVID-19 news. I’ve written about Russia many times in the past, and made a few predictions:
- That Russia would take a relatively friendly economic route to bringing Turkmenistan into its fold.
- That Russia would take a hardline response to Belarus and Svalbard.
I’ve also said that Russia would never give up footholds in Ukraine and Georgia. So, how is that playing out? Sadly, I’m not far off.
Turkmenistan is facing a spread of COVID-19 in its country. Who has lined up to help? Russia, of course. They’ve done this while trying to find ways to boost Turkmenistan’s economy, all while Turkmenistan gets closer to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which is Russia’s stand-in for the USSR.
Belarus recently arrested a number of Russians that it accuses of inciting riots ahead of its 8 August election. Not surprisingly, Russia asked those people be released. There was in fact a large rise in the democratic movement that seeks to unseat the 5-term Belarussian President Lukashenko. With a soon-to-be contested election and shared border with Russia, what could go wrong?
Russia has started the messaging train once again for Svalbard, this time demanding that Norway comply with Russian demands on Svalbard. Which they still call Spitsbergen, just to make the Norwegians angry.
Russia isn’t pulling any “crazy Ivan” moves. It knows that the US and Europe just don’t care enough (with the exception of Norway in Svalbard) about Georgia, Belarus and Turkmenistan. If Americans can barely find these places on a map, they certainly won’t care enough to risk their sons and daughters in the military to save them. In truth, if we want to stop this, we have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to go to war with Russia to save some territory in Georgia. And because the Russians think we won’t, they aren’t likely to stop taking that territory.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.