(The military analysis in this article is important. But beyond that, though I really appreciate Schindler’s analysis, I think he gets this one wrong. The analysis of causality and ideology vastly underestimates Russian nihilism and capacity for self-deception.)
He’s done it again. The honey badger in the Kremlin just moved more advanced missiles into position on Russia’s most westerly fringe to own the Baltic Sea. This week Moscow admitted it has deployed cutting-edge Bastion anti-ship missiles to the Kaliningrad exclave, north of Poland, plus equally advanced S-400 air defense systems to shoot down aircraft and missiles as far as 250 miles out.
With this move, the Kremlin has established control over the Baltic Sea, most of Poland and the Baltic republics—NATO members all. Russia now can exert anti-access and area denial—what the Pentagon calls A2AD for short—at will, meaning that any NATO aircraft or ships entering the region can be hit long before they get close to Kaliningrad. For Western military planners, this is nothing short of a nightmare, since Moscow can now block NATO reinforcements headed east to counter, say, Russian military moves on the vulnerable Baltic republics. . . .
The outgoing commander-in-chief decided that he needed to appease the Kremlin one more time before leaving the White House, to the horror of our allies who live close to Russia. “We’re on our own until January 20, and maybe much longer,” was how a senior Alliance defense official in that neighborhood explained the reality of what Obama has done through his inaction.
For good measure, this week the Russian defense ministry indicated that the deployment of Iskander-M systems to Kaliningrad, which Moscow has said was merely part of a military exercise, will be staying there permanently. Since those missiles can launch nuclear or conventional warheads as far as 300 miles with stunning accuracy, Russia now holds a powerful military advantage over NATO in the Baltic region. . . .
Predictably, the Kremlin maintains that moving state-of-the art missiles into Kaliningrad is a response to American ballistic missile defenses which have been deployed in Eastern Europe. As usual, Moscow depicts all its military moves, even ones which are destabilizing to regional security, as cosmically defensive, so great is the Western threat to Russia.