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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/5/18

Popular Putin Prepares for Cold War 2.0

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From Strategic Culture

As US-led Western hostility against Moscow mounts, Vladimir Putin's new government is bound to be a war cabinet

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
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Immediately after his official inauguration on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to announce a new government. And a bombshell is in the making. The new cabinet is bound to be a Stavka: that is, a war cabinet.

In the context of the interminable Russiagate saga, increasingly harsh US sanctions, the Skripal charade (which, incidentally, has totally disappeared from the Western news cycle), and the serious escalation in Syria -- in contrast to the Russia-Iran-Turkey attempt at a peace process in Astana -- that's an all but inevitable option chosen by the Kremlin.

As early as four years ago former military officer Yevgeny Krutikov, a columnist for Vzglyad, exposed what constituted Russian red lines for the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: Ukraine, Georgia, Finland, Sweden, "unfriendly actions of Lithuania and Poland" against the Kaliningrad enclave and navigation in the Baltic, and last but not least, the Arctic, "almost the ideal of all available bases for launching a first strike, both by nuclear weapons and high-precision, strategic non-nuclear arms."

Yet the new, absolute red line is Syria -- as recently delineated by the Russian Defense Ministry: Any attack on Russian assets or personnel will be met with a devastating response.

"The new, absolute red line is Syria -- as recently delineated by the Russian Defense Ministry: Any attack on Russian assets or personnel will be met with a devastating response."

Even more crucially, Russia's state-of-the-art missile technology, as announced by Putin in his landmark March 1 address, poses serious questions for the US naval empire.

Moscow's military spending decreased by 20% in 2017 to US$66.3 billion, according to a report released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This happened to constitute the first annual decline in almost 20 years.

Compare it with the combined 29-nation NATO military spending in 2017: $201 billion.

Not to mention US military spending, relatively stable, for the second year in a row, at a whopping $610 billion. But SIPRI says this is bound to go up, linked to "modernization of conventional and nuclear weapons."

Yet the heart of the matter from now on is not the enormous discrepancy between the Russian and NATO/American military budgets; it's the fact that Moscow can churn out serial hypersonic missiles -- fast and cheap -- compared with the Pentagon's capacity to build multibillion-dollar aircraft carriers.

Eurasianists vs Atlanticists

Russian analysts have confirmed to Asia Times that a Stavka is in the making -- translated as a tight, cohesive collective bent on devising pragmatic solutions in a war-economy setting, on all fronts. That implies extremely close coordination among the Kremlin, the Defense Ministry, the General Staff, all the agencies in the security apparatus and the Russian military-industrial complex.

Sergey Sobyanin, currently the mayor of Moscow, stands a pretty good chance of being the next prime minister. The ideal candidate for the military-industrial complex would have been Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, or even current Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. But it's practically sure that Putin, for complex internal-competition reasons, will choose Sobyanin.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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