In 1989 the Berlin wall tumbled like Humpty Dumpty amid a joyous celebration in Germany and across the West. The symbol of the Russian Communist dictatorship was blasted into bits of concrete. In the subsequent couple of years those states caught in the grip of the Soviet orbit seceded reducing the Russian population by about 150 million people.
NATO expanded to embrace many of these former states including the Baltic nations contiguous to Mother Russia. While the West viewed this new reality with promise liberal democracy would spread, former KGB officials regarded this defeat as humiliation, a humiliation that had to be redressed.
The accession of Vladimir Putin into a leadership position was a clear signal KGB operatives were intent on reclaiming the so-called “Near-Abroad” and extending Russian influence into areas from which it was formerly ousted.
This plan, transparent from the outset was assisted inadvertently or perhaps directly by the Obama administration that “reset” policy towards Russia by remaining “flexible,” another word for accepting Russian goals.
In fact, when President Obama refused to act on his own “red line” over Bashar al Assad’s use of poison gas, he invited the Russians to adjudicate the matter handing Putin a diplomatic victory and a legitimate pathway into Middle East politics.
Putin seized every opportunity. Signs of U.S. withdrawal from the region, offered Russia the chance to align itself with Iran and Hezbollah and fill the U.S. created vacuum, including naval dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the ensuing months, Russian air superiority over Syria gained one victory after another for pro-Assad forces until the final blow – the bombing of Aleppo, a massacre as noteworthy as the killing fields in Cambodia.
But aside from meaningless disapproval in the United Nations, Russian power was ascendant with impunity from the world community.
A Russia dying…