Leadership: How Russians Measure Fear And Risk


March 31, 2012:  Russian leaders admit that NATO and the United States have no intention of attacking them. But Russians do not base their defense strategy just on intentions but on capabilities as well. As long as the United States and NATO have such overwhelming military capabilities (compared to Russia), then Russia must prepare for the possibility that the intentions could quickly change (for whatever reason) and then the superior capabilities would be a serious threat. It's this kind of logic that produces the hostility from Russia when Eastern European nations join NATO or Central Asian nations allow the United States to use air bases there.

But by this same logic Russia approves of NATO operations in Afghanistan, the source of opium and heroin that is causing enormous social problems (and millions of addicts) within Russia. At the same time there are some serious disputes with other neighbors. China claims much of the Russian far east, Japan claims the Kuril Islands, Canada disputes Russian claims in the Arctic. None of these nations is as strong militarily as the United States, so America gets more attention as a threat because the U.S. could do more damage if it ever came to a fight.