Written by By Matthew Lee, CNN
When Russia officially started bombing NATO allies in the Baltic states in April, military action in Europe was again front page news, but in many ways not such a big deal for Moscow.
After all, the Russian military is not thought to have much to do in the Baltics, but what was striking was that such chaos in eastern Europe was never negative news for the Kremlin.
As the US warns that Russia and China are secretly working together to accelerate the development of 5G wireless networks, the Russian military’s massive modernization programme has not been disrupted by Russia’s incursion into other nations.
It’s also not terribly significant that security services are stepping up efforts to keep jihadists out of Europe, destabilizing political stability. On the contrary, chaos in such areas might provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with an excuse to expand his influence across the region, or even create it.
The US and Russia have entered into conflict over NATO Baltic States deployment. Credit: Reuters
The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a market-led integration of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, launched in December. It has created a new regional economic and political framework but so far has no teeth to clamp down on corruption, tax evasion and organized crime, according to the Economist.
It’s also not too much of a surprise that the region has been riven by intra-regional tensions in the period before the recent elections — elections that have seen three central republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) approve Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Crimea remains both a symbol of the loss of Ukraine’s republics and in the past a centralised theater of armed conflict for Russia’s military — and one many analysts have suggested that Moscow is seeking to reestablish.
Putin’s Russia has been building its military. Credit: AP
It doesn’t take a great deal of foresight to understand why Putin doesn’t mind Russian troops appearing in central Europe: It gives him cover in his strategic planning to expand to other parts of the continent as well.