Friday, November 14, 2014
Keeping Score in Cold War II
When it comes to Cold War II, we're limited to snippets of information; an incident here and there, accusations and counter-accusations. It's hard to get a meaningful picture of what's going on.
Enter the European Leadership Network, a think tank made up of former senior political and diplomatic types. They've released a report, "Dangerous Brinkmanship, Close Military Encounters between Russia and the West in 2014." The report makes for pretty chilling reading.
Here are just some of the 40-major incidents chronicled in the report.
April 12: An unarmed Russian aircraft makes 12 passes over the US warship the USS Cook, stationed in the Black Sea.
June: Russia simulates an attack on the Danish island of Bornholm as it plays host to 90,000 guests at a political festival. It is regarded as the most aggressive simulation against Denmark since the end of the Cold War.
August 30: Putin tells a youth camp that other countries should realise "it's best not to mess with us". "I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations," he says. "This is a reality, not just words. We are strengthening our nuclear deterrence forces and our armed forces."
September 4: As NATO members meet in Wales, Russia simulates an attack on the US, flying its strategic bombers to within striking distance of [Ottawa, Montreal] New York, Washington, and Chicago.
September 20: Six Russian airplanes, including two fighter jets and two long range bombers, come close to US airspace off the Alaskan coast. Two US F-22 fighter jets scramble to intercept the planes.
October 2: Russian sends a fighter jet to trail a Swedish signals intelligence plane, which photographs the Russian jet 30 metres away.
October 16: Putin says further sanctions against Russia would amount to "blackmail". He warns sanctions could create "discord between large nuclear powers".
October 17: The Swedish military begins scouring the Stockholm archipelago for an underwater vessel, smaller than a conventional submarine, rumoured to be Russian. The search for the "plausible foreign underwater operation" is called off a week later.
November 13: Russia sends its "Leopard" radar unit to an eastern Ukrainian battlefield near Donetsk. The 1RL232, an armoured, weaponised surveillance system with a 40-kilometre range, gives Russian weapons greater accuracy.
This week, as Russian warships sailed toward Queensland waters, a new report found Russia's behaviour fuelled "dangerous brinkmanship" at Cold War levels.
"The intensity and gravity of incidents involving Russian and Western militaries and security agencies has visibly increased," the European Leadership Network, a policy group, found.
"These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs, and other dangerous actions."
It's a dangerous game, fraught with peril and unintentional outcomes, that both sides are playing. Our own sandbox warrior, Harper, seems to have a genuine appetite for it. Today, the sort of statesmanship needed to keep these dangers in check is in dreadfully short supply.