From the Canadian Globe and Mail comes this article:
MOSCOW — In a threat not uttered since the Cold War, Vladimir Putin said that Russia intends to aim its missile systems - potentially nuclear weapons - at targets in Europe in retaliation for the U.S. decision to establish antimissile bases there.
During a lengthy dinner, Russia's President defended his semi-authoritarian style and insisted he is the world's only true democrat. In an interview with The Globe and Mail and a small circle of other journalists, he stressed that his country is not moving away from a market economy, refused to consider extraditing a former KGB agent charged with poisoning a dissident in London, and lashed out repeatedly at the United States and NATO for operating in countries previously within Russia's sphere of influence.
In the last 17 years since the fall of the old Soviet Union, the world has generally viewed the new Russia as irrelevant and not a serious force to be reckoned with (in terms of influence in the world arena). In the big picture, this has not been the best course of action, but that's the way it has played out up to this point.
In many of the former Warsaw Pact countries and former Soviet Socialist Republics, there was (and still is) much resentment over how Mother Russia lorded over them and interfered within their local affairs. If one of the nations was to get too independent from Moscow, force was threatened and in some cases used, if local officials did not comply with Kremlin directives. (SEE: 1956 Hungary and 1968 Czechoslovakia)
Today, the resentment has shifted back to Moscow. At present, most of these former satellites are looking towards Western Europe and the U.S. for the development of their economies and other kinds of support that Moscow could not supply then, and still cannot now. And Putin, being a former Cold Warrior, cannot stand it. It's an ego thing with him and those that stand with him in the Russian government.
How can we reach this conclusion?
Russia lost much influence when they could no longer prop up the various eastern European governments that once stood with them. The Russian government's collective ego was left bruised after coming to the realization that their theories on the fall of western civilization were not accurate, and the theories of a glorious existence of world-wide socialism would never materialize (at least not Soviet style). After decades of predicting the collapse of western capitalism (particularly the U.S. and her allies), their collective tails were tucked between their legs as they pulled out. To add insult to injury, the same nations were elated and looking forward to repairing relations with those nations that had been the subject of an intense propaganda campaign by the Kremlin, despite the fact this has been a gradual process.
In some ways and to some degree, we can certainly understand the suspicions of Russians. One need only to look at history to gain a more in-depth understanding of their attitudes towards the west.
Napoleon and Hitler, two imperialists that wanted to build empires that equaled or were greater than that of the Romans, set their sights on Russia without thought to the serious difficulties that would lie ahead in such an endeavor. Their blatant aggression was bold and specific.
These events, alone, could shed some light on explaining Putin's growing outward mistrust of Europe and the U.S., if it were not for one very important thing. The defensive missile shield is not offensive in nature.
This leads me to question the irrational response Putin has chosen to render.
The Bush administration maintains that the purpose of installing a missile shield in Europe is to protect it from rogue states currently seeking a nuclear bomb, like Iran and North Korea. Putin claims that these counties do not (at present) pose a valid threat, on the basis of the fact that neither country has a capable delivery system. He is right for now, but just how long will he be right?
This leads me to wonder further, why is he so concerned?
If Putin is right, then he shouldn't be worried if the U.S. and the countries agreeing to deployment waste money on it. Right? The only thing that is feasible after this is, Putin's motives are not as pure as he wants us all to believe.
He must want the world to think that his fear and mistrust of the EU leads him to believe that the EU and/or the U.S., both want to attack Russia with nuclear weapons at some point down the road. And by having the missile shield in place, it would embolden Europe to become more aggressive and turn once again to imperialism for expansion purposes, as they have done in times past.
That's all well and good. But if we look at present-day Europe, they certainly are not giving any outward signs that this is the case. In fact, instead of aggressive rhetoric and actions, we see modern-day Europe as a model of passive foreign policy (almost to a fault). In reality, if anything at all, Europe is a pacifist entity that avoids most conflicts due to the ability to look back and see what consequences lie at the end of war. And let's not forget this little tidbit of insight: Europeans still remember the widespread destruction of their continent and certainly have the capabilities of visualizing what their continent would look like if they chose this path again, this time with nuclear weapons being at the center of such a conflict.
The U.S. has even offered to provide a shield that will protect Russia and by them turning it down, it becomes more apparent that this isn't about the danger they perceive will come from the west. In real terms, it demonstrates to me (and many others) that Russia wants to maintain a level of leverage should they once again decide to exert coercive influence, over its former sphere of influence.
If we look at the insanely jealous husband that is always accusing his wife of infidelity, we can usually pinpoint the source of his suspicion and paranoia to the fact that he, himself, is not faithful to her. And in a textbook model of egocentric behavior, he knows that he is not doing right, so he perceives that everyone else must not being doing right either. This case is no different. His accusations of perceived aggression by the west, can also fall into this category.
What else could it possibly mean?