As it dispatched a fleet of submarines to challenge a Western military exercise, the Russian government said on Friday (19) it was “ready for the worst” when asked about the risk of another war cold with the United States.
“Of course, we hope for the best, but we are always ready for the worst. Regarding Russia, President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he wants to maintain relations. [com os americanos]Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
On Wednesday (17), US President Joe Biden spoke out against his Russian counterpart in an unprecedented way even during the Cold War, a global geopolitical clash between Washington and Moscow following the forced division by the Soviet Union of Europe between bloc capitalists and communists after the Second World War.
When asked if Putin was a murderer in a TV interview, against the backdrop of the poisoning of opponent Alexei Navalni, Biden replied in the affirmative. And he also pledged to fight for alleged cyber interference in the 2020 US election.
Navalni survived the assassination attempt, which the Kremlin denies, but was arrested on his return to Russia. He had a reactivated prison sentence for parole violation and will spend more than two years in a penal colony.
“Of course, we can’t rule out Biden’s comments,” Peskov said. On Thursday, the Democrat reaffirmed his position.
A new cold war with the Russians would be strictly military and localized, given that Moscow’s projection power is limited. In the clash that ended with the end of the Communist Empire in 1991, the two countries clashed around the world, usually by proxy.
Economically, Russia has little muscle. Not by chance, Cold War 2.0 is being experienced today by Washington and China, which are not yet a comparable military power to the United States, but which presents a lasting economic challenge and growing global assertiveness.
This does not eliminate the Kremlin from the board of directors, in particular because Putin has a nuclear arsenal comparable to that of Biden, and in full rejuvenation: the last report of the Ministry of Defense underlines that more than 80% of Russian missiles and warheads are modern or modernized.
And Moscow has a limited capacity to project power to its periphery which is respectable. A sign was given on Friday, amid the exchange of beards between the Kremlin and the White House.
The Black Sea Fleet, centered in Sevastopol (Crimea), dispatched its six attack submarines at the same time, which is unprecedented.
The reason? A NATO (Western Military Alliance) mega-military exercise, led by Romania, in these waters. The club has 18 warships, 10 planes and 2,400 military personnel from five countries.
The Black Sea has become a front of tension exacerbated by Putin’s takeover of the Ukrainian Russian ethnic region of Crimea in 2014 in response to the overthrow of the pro-Moscow government in Kiev.
Additionally, its southern shore is dominated by Turkey, a NATO member who recently competed with Russia in regional conflicts – from Syria and Libya to backing Azerbaijan against Armenia last year.
Military activity on both sides has intensified and not a week goes by without intercepting reconnaissance planes or provocation exercises.
“This [o envio de todos os submarinos] this does not happen with Russia or other countries. This is unprecedented, ”Captain Anatoly Varochnik, commander of the submarine force in Sevastopol, told Interfax.
The fact that surface ships remain at the base indicates that the Russians will follow in the footsteps of the NATO fleet, which is expected to stop in Georgia and Turkey. Western exercise is a zone ban.
Obviously, complications are not the province of both camps, but the fact that rival forces are in the water always gives rise to accidents. Last year, a Russian destroyer nearly collided with another, American, to prevent its transit through waters Moscow considers its own in the Pacific.
Since the days of the Románov Empire (1613-1917) and during the Soviet reign (1922-1991), the Black Sea has been considered by Moscow as part of its strategic sphere.
It guarantees Russian access to the Mediterranean, through the Turkish Straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, being vital for hydrocarbon exports and for the coordination of Moscow’s military activities in Syria.
Like the Baltic Sea, the Arctic and the Russian Far East, the Black Sea today is a point where Western forces seek to challenge this notion of dominance whenever possible, such as during the recent landing of a strategic bomber in northern Norway.