(RightWing.org) – In the 1980s, former President Ronald Reagan took a hard stand against the Soviet Union. He bolstered the US military, increased the firepower of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and used the power of the US economy to crumble the Soviet communist government. Throughout the mid-80s, Reagan built a friendship with Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. When the Soviet empire collapsed, Russia worked to move toward a capitalist society and friendlier relations with the United States.
It didn’t last long. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, ascended to the head of the government. Over the last 20 years, Putin has become a de facto authoritarian. Eventually, he gained control of the country, and while the US and Russia weren’t involved in a Cold War, the tensions were always under the surface. Now, Russia is evoking the Cold War again, and its plans could be terrifying for eastern Europe and the world.
Russia Threatens Europe
Why is Russia so afraid of NATO? Article 5 of NATO’s charter says that an attack on one is an attack on all members, and the alliance will defend its fellow members. If Ukraine were a fellow member at this time, Russia would be embroiled in a full-scale war with all of NATO, which includes the United States.
In 2021, Ukraine expressed interest in joining NATO and began the process for membership. President Putin warned he would not accept NATO on his western boundary. He began building up the Russian military on the Ukraine border and warned if the former Soviet bloc country didn’t rescind its membership, there could be a full-blown military incursion into Ukraine.
After nearly seven weeks of war, Russia may have provoked a bigger response from northern European countries than it first thought. On Wednesday, April 13, Finland and Sweden took steps to join NATO, which could happen in a matter of weeks. The prime ministers of the two countries said Putin’s invasion of Ukraine changed the entire landscape and the need for military protection, and dramatically changed the mindset of the two countries.
Like Ukraine, Russia has repeatedly warned the two baltic states against joining NATO. The Kremlin said any such move would be a provocation and that Russia would respond with measures to rebalance the situation.
Nuclear Weapons on the Table
On Thursday, the former Russian president and close Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would deploy nuclear weapons close to the two baltic states if they follow through on NATO membership. He said the move would more than double NATO’s presence on Russia’s border, and that Russia would have no choice but to respond.
Medved noted that for the first time since the end of the Cold War, Finland and Sweden would have to live with nuclear and hypersonic missiles on their border. Will the threat of nuclear and hypersonic weapons scare the two countries off? It didn’t dissuade Lithuania, which said Russia’s threats are nothing new. Officials said the Kremlin deployed nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad well before its Ukrainian war.
NATO officials didn’t respond to the threat. The US State Department said Washington had not changed its position that all are welcome and the doors are open to NATO membership.
Stay tuned. This is a continually evolving story.
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