Putin: “Don't mess with us”

Relations between the United States and Russia at are a low; President Donald Trump blames Congress for this turn of events

Putin: “Don't mess with us”

Among the many actions taken by Russia since Trump took office, the increase of military exercises near its borders with the Baltic States caught the Pentagon’s attention. More than 100,000 of Putin’s forces will partake in operation Zapad – the Russian word for “West” – next to Belarus and Latvia, and uncomfortably close to NATO positions just across the Baltic Sea.

Harry J. Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, stated, “what Putin is trying to do is show that the Russian military is back […] for years, he’s been rebuilding Russia’s capability to wage war. Now he wants to show off what he has”. The Kremlin has heavily invested in a strategy based on command and control – the ability for various units to exchange information and interact in a coordinated manner.

But now that the tension between Russia and the United States has increased after president Putin ordered the expulsion of various US diplomats in Moscow as retaliation of the new sanctions against Russia for having supposedly interfered with the past presidential elections in 2016. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev affirmed that new sanctions imposed by the United States are tantamount to declaring a "full-scale trade war" against the European capital. He said the measures, signed by Donald Trump, demonstrated the complete impotence of the US president. The law aims to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections and its actions in Ukraine.

Even though relations between the US and Russia are “under considerable stress”, Washington and Moscow are trying to work together to fight ISIS and create conditions for peace in Syria, said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He noted that Moscow reserved the right to react when the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and seized two Russian properties in the US, and that President Vladimir Putin made the call to retaliate after the United States’ Congress overwhelmingly voted to impose more sanctions on the European nation, despite reservations from the White House.

The American Embassy, which held a staff meeting past Monday to confirm the news to its employees, refused to comment on the events; the State Department would only say that it was studying the Russian government’s request. The general hostility in Russia toward the United States means Moscow was already considered a difficult assignment for American diplomats, and the new measures will lower morale.

 

Latin American Post |  Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella 

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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