By Igor Sutyagin and Michael Clarke
The Military Ticks Up while the Clock Ticks Down
On 2 April, NATO’s Supreme Commander in Europe General Philip M Breedlove made it clear that the Alliance is about to announce a series of military measures to demonstrate that it is still a working military command structure capable of defending all its external borders. These measures are designed both to reassure NATO’s eastern members and to send a loud message to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that military adventures in the former Soviet space would create an even more dangerous crisis for Europe than the seizure of Crimea. No one, including Putin, knows what he may do next as the situation changes. The crisis in Ukraine raised the Crimea issue for him both as a difficult problem as well as an opportunity, and he apparently chose to seize the opportunity without much anticipation of the cost.
For that reason alone, NATO officials have something to worry about. Alongside the political initiatives to create a negotiated outcome and the sanctions to apply pressure on the Russian leadership, there is a military dynamic that is becoming more worrying and urgent.