Against US and NATO, Russia will strengthen western borders

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As the 21st century world discussed last week the extent of the escalation in the trade war between the United States and China, or even the effects of burning in the Amazon, a ghost inherited from the Cold War showed dangerous vitality.

Russia has announced, without much fanfare, that it will strengthen its western borders due to increased tensions with the US and NATO, the military alliance led by Washington.

There were no details, but Russian military analysts speculate the transfer of nuclear warheads to the Kaliningrad region, the European hub of the Kremlin.

There may also be reinforcement of troops from the Baltic countries and perhaps greater military cooperation with the reluctant ally Belarus, which, like Ukraine, serves Moscow's vision as a strategic shield between Western and Russian forces.

Usually, statements like Choigu's would be read only as empty threats, but the animosity between Russia and the West has grown to levels only seen during the years when Soviets and Americans vied for world primacy.

The most recent fracture was the abandonment, on the part of the USA, of the treaty that prohibited the installation of intermediate-range nuclear missiles launched from the ground in Europe.

It was an anachronism, but of great symbolism: the 1987 agreement was one of those that marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The Americans accused the Russians of making weapons that potentially broke the agreement, only to receive the same charge back from Moscow.

On Monday (19), Washington tested a cruise missile with an intermediate range of 500 km, giving rhetorical points to President Vladimir Putin, who saw the event as proof of Washington's intention to leave the treaty.

On Friday (23), the Russian determined that all US movements be mirrored by Russia. He cited the statement made by the new American Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, that the Americans should install intermediate-range missiles in Asia.

This leaves us in no doubt about the real intention of the US in leaving the pact, which was to untie its hands to install missiles previously banned in different regions of the world, he said, according to the Kremlin.

Moscow has been complaining for years about installing anti-missiles in Romania and Poland. Romanians have been operating batteries since 2016, and Poles will have their batteries ready by 2020.

For the Kremlin, defensive missiles take the balance of power out of the region, as well as being able to be replaced by offensive models to attack Russian targets in less than 10 minutes while US-fired intercontinental nuclear giants have a window of about half hour until it reaches the ground.

This threat has accelerated the development of new nuclear-capable weapons by Moscow. Westerners alternate skepticism with Putin's military promises, whose difficulties can be evidenced by the explosion that hit an alleged missile with a dubious nuclear propulsion the week before, with accusations that Moscow is the one who started the race.

There are other stressors. Since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimea of ​​Ukraine, NATO has created protection forces with reinforced troops in Poland and in the three Baltic states, ex-Soviet nations particularly fearful of a Russian advance across the border they share with Moscow. There are 7,200 soldiers , 4,000 of them Americans. Military analysts agree, however, that it is something more symbolic.

In addition, Choigu cited NATO's growing involvement with two Nordic countries that are not in the alliance, Sweden and Finland. Both countries deepened their ties as the organization's priority allies, participating in joint exercises and supporting operations.

Putin, incidentally, was in fourth in Helsinki to discuss bilateral cooperation with the Finns both nations were in conflict in 1939-40.

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