Indeed, the idea of no "specific nuclear thresholds" is one of the most extraordinarily dangerous and destabilizing concepts to come along since the invention of nuclear weapons.
There is no evidence that Russia contemplates an attack on the Baltic states or countries like Poland, and, given the enormous power of the U.S., such an undertaking would court national suicide.
Moscow's "aggression" against Georgia and Ukraine was provoked. Georgia attacked Russia, not vice versa, and the Ukraine coup torpedoed a peace deal negotiated by the European Union, the U.S., and Russia. Imagine Washington's view of a Moscow-supported coup in Mexico, followed by an influx of Russian weapons and trainers.
In a memorandum to the recent NATO meetings in Warsaw, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argued "There is not one scintilla of evidence of any Russian plan to annex Crimea before the coup in Kiev and coup leaders began talking about joining NATO. If senior NATO leaders continue to be unable or unwilling to distinguish between cause and effect, increasing tension is inevitable with potentially disastrous results."
The organization of former intelligence analysts also sharply condemned the NATO war games. "We shake our heads in disbelief when we see Western leaders seemingly oblivious to what it means to the Russians to witness exercises on a scale not seen since Hitler's army launched 'Unternehumen Barbarossa' 75 years ago, leaving 25 million Soviet citizens dead."
While the NATO meetings in Warsaw agreed to continue economic sanctions aimed at Russia for another six months and to station four battalions of troops in Poland and the Baltic states -- separate U.S. forces will be deployed in Bulgaria and Poland -- there was an undercurrent of dissent. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for deescalating the tensions with Russia and for considering Russian President Vladimir Putin a partner not an enemy.
Greece was not alone. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeler called NATO maneuvers on the Russian border "warmongering" and "saber rattling." French President Francois Hollande said Putin should be considered a "partner," not a "threat," and France tried to reduce the number of troops being deployed in the Baltic and Poland. Italy has been increasingly critical of the sanctions.
Rather than recognizing the growing discomfort of a number of NATO allies and that beefing up forces on Russia's borders might be destabilizing, U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry recently inked defense agreements with Georgia and Ukraine.