How much of a threat is Russia to US interests? I ask that question in all seriousness. There’s some indication that Russia is essentially no threat. There’s a couple articles over at the National Interest (here and here) that Russia isn’t a threat and that, basically, we should be friends with Russia. Sure, they took a chunk out of Ukraine and snapped up Crimea. Sure, they’re backing Assad in Syria. But they aren’t doing anything directly contrary to our interests. So, the argument goes, we should let them have their little regional sphere of influence. We should try to placate them.
In those articles, however, it fails to take in the other stuff. For instance, when Russia buzzes on the edge of British airspace, or when they send submarines through Swedish waters, or even the massive military buildup along the Ukrainian border.
How should the world interpret that? Let it go? Turn the other cheek? Be the better nation?
Putting aside my personal dislike for Putin and his ilk, I have to ponder what exactly is the proper response. On one hand, Russia isn’t directly doing anything that crosses any line. They’re intentionally being provocative, sure. They’re being assholes. But they aren’t violating anything directly. They’re being aggressive in that hormonal teenage way without actually picking a fight.
What is their goal and how should the rest of the world respond?