The US, with its fellow western countries, now universally believes that a new cold war is on the horizon, and that this terrifying ordeal is the creation of Vladimir Putin. It is his actions that have ignited this hostility, and it is his actions that continue to facilitate it. Not a day goes by when we hear stories of Russian aircraft taking aggressive maneuvers towards western airspace. Vladimir Putin is the Commander-in-Chief of Russia. It is done under his orders, that thousands of Russian troops move into defensive perimeters around the border and that, under his authority, nuclear weapons are to be stationed in strategic points throughout the Federation. This is what we’re told. But is the mainstream media right that we should fear without question the people’s president of Russia?
A frequent bitter taste of Russian aggression usually comes in the form of aircraft interception near western airspace. A brief moment of panic usually ensues, as news anchors around the world decry such action, and claim that without doubt president Putin is itching for conflict. However, even the briefest of looks at the Obama Presidency vs the Putin presidency unearths some significant misnomers about the ‘war mongering’ Putin. The data seems to argue that he’s not attacking anyone, and that unlike Obama, he’s not invading anyone. In fact, a glimpse into the events around Syria seem to suggest that Putin is aiming for quite the opposite.
Time and again, US and western media waves a finger and tuts at the Kremlin, often over their callous use of airspace, like they’re the chief agitators of the air. However, Russia in the 90s actually halted all geo-strategic aviation in the near abroad (as did the USSR). Military aviation in the US continued regardless. Despite this, Russia continued with the non-patrol year after year, until an ‘act of aggression’ was carried out by the US, as they started circling planes loaded with nuclear weapons around Russia. In 2012 Russia decided to restart their aviation patrol and, to this day, they’ve received criticism ever since.
But the facts don’t just stagnate in the air; they also cast a very different light on the ground. The numerous overseas bases held by both parties go some way in showing who has the thought of global conquest on the mind. In total, Russia has around ten military bases overseas. These exist in areas of known terrorist dangers to Russia, such as the base in Kyrgyztan, which was only placed upon request by the then Kyrgz President Akayev. In comparison, the United States have somewhere between 700 to over 1000 military bases overseas ranging from small airfields, to drone bases and troop strongholds. A concern is that some of these bases hold nuclear weapons (such as the US base stationed in Romania). With the major criticism levied at Russia for moving nuclear weapons around the confines of their own country, logic dictates that there would be media and political outcry from the west if Putin attempted to plant nuclear weapons abroad. This hypocrisy is further amplified with the US (along with NATO forces) moving their military industrial units closer to Russian borders.
An insight into the fiscal practices of Russia and the US continue to cast further doubt about Putin’s political aggression. In 2015, Putin’s Russia spent $66.4 billion on weapons and other defences. The Obama administration on the other hand spent a staggering $560.4 billion, with further increases ($24 billion proposed) planned for 2016 (Chapter 1 Pg 1-2). This figure excludes the proposed trillion dollar update to the US’s nuclear weapons programme set to carry over the next few years.
These hostilities against Russia aren’t just perpetrated by the US, the UK has also had its hand in ruffling the feathers of the Kremlin. When Natwest bank decided to close the account of Russia’s leading global news station, the British government denied any involvement. The news station (RT) argued that it’s the UK playing its part in EU policy that aims to shut down any voice with ties to Russia. Putin, back in 2015, when he was asked about tensions with the west said,
“Does anyone even listen to us? Or have some kind of dialogue with us? The repeated answer we get (from the United States) is ‘mind your own business’ and ‘each country can choose its own security measures.’ Very well. So will we. Why is the same forbidden to us?”
With western governments seemingly honoring an unwritten rule to vilify and undermine Vladimir Putin with every opportunity they can get, this inexhaustible supply of fear seems to have saturated the minds of European and American citizens. In Britain, my experience is that most people tend to have varying views on all types of political figures, but when it comes to Putin its a blanket disdain. They can never really say why they dislike Putin or Russia, all they know is that they just do, and have been told that’s the right way to be. But it’s hard to ignore that the more you peel back the rhetoric the less Putin seems like an aggressor, and the more like a statesman.