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Professor Stefan Hedlund
Moscow’s propaganda touting
the scale of its military maneuvers notwithstanding, the country does not command
nearly enough ground forces to defeat NATO or China in a protracted open conflict.
The Russian Federation also does not have the demographics to expand its armies
significantly. Its military planners, however, have been demonstrating an
impressive dexterity in finding ways to address the changing defense needs of
the Eurasian colossus.
Sitting at the intersection of important
energy transfer routes, Turkey is an active participant in the high-stakes
pipeline game between the European Union, Russia and the Caspian region energy
producers. Ankara has increased its geopolitical heft and secured earnings from
gas transit fees but at the price of making Turkey more dependent on Russia.
This has important implications for Europe.
The truce brokered by
Turkey and Russia in northwestern Syria has prevented a slaughter of the
remnants of the Syrian opposition forces and scores of hapless civilians. This
highlights the pragmatic attitudes of the two powers that have assumed key
roles in the Syria conflict. The danger of a larger war remains, however, as
long as Iran’s designs in Syria threaten Israel.
Prince Michael of Liechtenstein
The relentless rise of
Iran is also making itself felt in the South Caucasus, a region ridden by
border conflicts and great-power rivalry. The inroad is Azerbaijan. The small
but oil-rich Caspian Sea state with a border issue with a neighbor is being
intensely courted by Tehran and Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Israel, too,
cultivates its relations with Baku. Russia’s traditional policy in its backyard
– divide and rule, and sell weapons to all – may backfire under such
to sell modern U.S. anti-tank missiles to Kiev means that a red line in the
West’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis has been crossed. Whether the delivery
of this expensive weapon system to the embattled nation serves U.S. national
security interests or brings Kiev closer to reclaiming the territories it had lost
to Moscow-backed insurgents is highly debatable.