Source: The Saker
It has been a quarter of a century now since the fall of the Soviet Union and yet the memory of the Soviet Armed Forces is still vivid in the minds of many of those who lived through the Cold War or even remember WWII. The NATO-sponsored elites of eastern Europe still continue to scare their citizens by warning of a danger of “Russian tanks” rolling down their streets as if the Soviet tanks were about to advance on Germany again. For a while, the accepted image of a Russian solider in the West was a semi-literate drinking and raping Ivan who would attack in immense hordes with little tactical skills and an officer corps selected for political loyalty and lack of imagination. Then the propaganda narrative changed and now the new Russian bogeyman is a “little green man” who will suddenly show up to annex some part of the Baltics to Russia. Putatively pro-Russian “experts” add to the confusion by publicly hallucinating of a Russian deployment in Syria and the Mediterranean which could wrestle the entire region away from Uncle Sam and fight the entire NATO/CENCOM air forces and navies with confidence. This is all nonsense, of course, and what I propose to do here is to provide a few very basic pointers about what the modern Russian military can and cannot do in 2016. This will not be a highly technical discussion but rather a list of a few simple, basic, reminders.
Russia is not the Soviet Union
The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that the Russian military is truly focused on the defense of the Russian territory. Let me immediately say that contrary to much of the Cold War propaganda, the Soviet military was also defensive in essence, even if it did include a number of offensive elements:
1) The military control of all of Eastern Europe as a “buffer zone” to keep the US/NATO away from the Soviet Union’s borders.
2) An official ideology, Communism, which was messianic and global in its stated goals (more or less, depending on who was in power)
3) A practice of global opposition to the US Empire anywhere on the planet with technical, political, financial, scientific and, of course, military means
Russia has exactly zero interest in any of these. Not only did the nature of modern warfare dramatically reduce the benefits of being forward deployed, the messianic aspects of Communism have even been abandoned by the Communist Party of Russia which is now focused on the internal socio-economic problems of Russia and which has no interest whatsoever in liberating the Polish or Austrian proletariat from Capitalist exploitation. As for a global military presence, Russia has neither the means nor the desire to waste her very limited resources on faraway territories which do not contribute to her defense.
But the single most important factor here is this: the overwhelming majority of Russian are tired and fed up with being an empire. From Peter I to Gorbachev, the Russian people have paid a horrific price in sweat, tears, blood and Rubles to maintain an empire which did absolutely nothing for the Russian people except impoverish them and make them hated in much of the world. More than anything else, the Russians want their country to be a “normal” country. Yes, safe, powerful, wealthy and respected, but still a normal country and not a global superpower. Many Russians still remember that the Soviet Politburo justified the occupation and subsequent war in Afghanistan as the completion of an “internationalist duty” and if somebody today tried that kind of language the reply would be “to hell with that”. Finally, there is the sad reality that almost all the countries which were liberated by Russia, not only from Nazi Germany, but also from the Turkish yoke show exactly zero gratitude for the role Russia played in their liberation. To see how our so-called “Orthodox brothers” in Bulgaria, Romania or Georgia are eager to deploy NATO weapons against Russia is nothing short of sickening. The next time around, let these guys liberate themselves, everybody will be happier that way.