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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Why Russia wants to restore the Soviet borders

nothing is simpler than to denounce an evildoer and nothing is harder than to understand him but as Russian ships shadow NATO within the black sea and as Putin threatens to knock the teeth out of foreign aggressors there seems to be little room for understanding with the collapse of the soviet union Russia lost centuries of territorial expansionism critically exposed and at further risk of disintegration Russia spent the turn of the millennium licking.

its wounds now a well-known disquiet has descended upon the post-soviet states uneasy eyes locked to moscow and likewise uneasy eyes reminisce for when one faces a cornered bear the essence of strategy is selecting what not to do stretching from west to east Russia.

May be a goliath on the planet stage the country shares 20 000 kilometers in border with 16 states 12 of which were formerly part of its contiguous territory during the soviet era having such an extensive land border presents security liabilities deeply so the reasons for this are historical with the advent of the domain of Moscow.

in the 15th century the fledgling state faced an immediate and geopolitical calamity surrounded by hostile powers Moscow’s anxiety could only be dampened by expanding its geographic barriers be it rivers lakes mountains or seas consequently within the first centuries of its existence russia expanded at a rate of 1 Belgium per year by the turn of the 18th century.

Russia had grown to the extent of its modern borders even today Russia’s geography grants it substantial advantages the frozen amorphous crown of arctic ice that adorns the Russian landmass deters any notion of a land-based invasion from the north a naval approach to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk is impalpable even to the foremost experienced admirals doing so would require traversing two major choke points the gi uk gap and therefore the bear gap the primary referring to the open ocean between Greenland Iceland.

Therefore the reform the UK and the second being the gap between swalbar island and northern Norway these choke points are easily defensible through the utilization of submarines of which russia has plenty within the east the rugged shorelines of Siberia fall away to the Bering Strait the sea of okhotsk and the ocean of japan the short distance between alaska and Russia could seem traversable.

The arctic climate the strong tidal movement and the presence of heavy firepower at either side restricts the movement of military forces across the strait comparably through the control of the Kamchatka peninsula and the kural islands russia can restrict hostile actions in the sea of Okhotsk.

Therefore the sea of japan meanwhile the stunnaway range and therefore the scion mountains cement Russia’s foothold within the Far East even when movement is feasible the rough climate restricts navigation further still much of Russia’s eastern frontier offers its military the whip hand in any engagement.

However things are more troubling in eastern Europe running from st Petersburg to kazan to Volgograd is the Russian heartland about 80 percent of the Russian public resides during this area and nearly every decision the kremlin makes is predicated on the needs and interests of its heartland however the heartland shares the periphery with six other former soviet republics Moldova Ukraine Belarus Lithuania Estonia and Latvia the collective space they share is one of the foremost problematic regions within the world to start there are two anomalies.

The Crimean peninsula and the Kaliningrad exclave both function as strategic military bases that deny the entry of hostile forces within the Black Sea and therefore the Baltic sea both regions are full of heavy armaments and area denial weapons foreign powers tend to consider when nearing Crimea and Kaliningrad should a hostile power control these assets movement within the Russian heartland would be immediately exposed to disruptions in between from north to south is that the European plain this permissive terrain extends sort of a triangle from Netherlands to the ural mountains it forms a conduit widening.

It stretches eastward by the time the european plane reaches the borders of the Russian federation its width jumps to overflow 2 000 kilometers making it the most important exposed landscape in the world the terrain here is flat open and indefensible main battle tanks offer some protection in these sorts of terrain which is why russia has about 13 000 of them..

Accounting for nearly one fifth of the global fleet but however no amount of weaponry can fully defend two thousand kilometers of flat terrain.

Moreover east of the border with ukraine the rolling landscape continues uninterrupted for 750 kilometers to the town of astrakhan on the Caspian referred to as the volga grad gap perhaps no region is more fundamental to the existence of the Russian state should a hostile force close this gap it would effectively dissolve russia’s control over the caucasus the black sea and therefore the Caspian in both world wars the german military attempted to shut the volga grad gap and in both attempts russia’s survival hung on a pleasant edge until long after the invasion was repelled on the northern rim of the ECU border said the baltic nations historically lacking the strength to pose a threat to russia alone the baltic states have often acted as conduits for nice powers from the swedish invasion of russia,

within the 18th century to the german offenses within the 20th century plenty have tried entering the Russian heartland through the baltics the collapse of the soviet union placed the baltics within the hands of nato which has granted the three republics the confidence to negotiate with russia on equal footing a stance that’s nigh on impossible for other post-soviet republics the loss of its east european holdings caused Moscow dearly both politically and financially moscow has been forced to take care of a huge border with a number of the foremost sophisticated militaries within the world it has been a particularly costly status quo thus to attenuate its exposure russia needs to anchor itself by the Baltic and therefore the carpathian mountains in western ukraine.

now the corpethians aren’t impenetrable but they provide premium advantage to the occupying force in an otherwise flat space meanwhile control of the baltics would allow the russians to push their frontier all the thanks to kaliningrad hence by restoring the soviet borders moscow would scale back its exposed flank by the european plane to 600 kilometers a big drop from the present 2 000 kilometers ideally the russians would want to push west as much as they will preferably into poland this then explains Russia’s stalemate with the western bloc think of the ECU plane as a grand chessboard where one must maximize the position of its pawns by strategically placing them.

the further NATO pushes east into the ecu plane the more flexible its strategic planning becomes the more room for error it gains the russians meanwhile would be left still more exposed and compelled into even more military spending likewise the more Russia pushes westward the fewer options nato has and therefore the greater the margin for error on the russian side becomes to not mention russia wouldn’t need to spend so much on defense yes retaking the previous soviet territories is that the ultimate objective by supporting separatist forces moscow aims to put its neighbors in frozen conflicts from which the sole reprieve is that the re-entry into russia’s sphere of influence it is a policy that hasn’t always worked as planned more often than not it has backfired dramatically things are slightly more different to the southeast the caucasus presents a roadblock to geopolitical ambitions it’s the place where great powers have historically converged.

Today Turkish Iranian and American influences are proliferating should the russians let their guard down the Caucasus would swiftly turn against them the greater caucasus range stretching from sochi by the Black Sea to baku on the caspian grants russia a layer of defense over its fertile planes and transportation networks to the north.

However the north caucasus which is a component of the Russia is a hotbed for extremist movements russia retains control over the region by turning the local actors against one another still to realize long-lasting authority it must anchor by the lesser caucasus mountains and the aras river which runs alongside the southern parameters of Georgia armenia and azerbaijan these nations structure the south caucasus and control over them would provide the russians with additional layers of protection in the north caucasus.

it might also mark a firm line separating russia from iran and turkey this is why the Soviet Union extended its borders of everything of the caucasus and russia wants to revive those holdings policy makers in moscow exercise influence over the region by exploiting communal ethnic conflicts.

the trouble is that the local actors with their localized issues be it chechen separatists or georgia’s nato aspirations are cognizant of the geopolitical weight they carry and they tend to tug in rival powers in the strife for influence and power this is what makes the south caucasus a vocal point in regional politics further east is central asia stripped of its soviet borders.

Russia is severely exposed at this flank east of the altai mountains the peaks fall away to rolling grasslands and windswept prairies the kazakh and ponto steps stretch across the broader russian border here the closest geographic hindrance is the ural which leaves a flat gap as wide as 650 kilometers from the Urals to the caspian sea this terrain is indefensible and history proves it for hundreds of years turkic warlords.

maximize the position of its pawns by strategically placing them the further nato pushes east into the ecu plane the more flexible its strategic planning becomes the more room for error it gains the russians meanwhile would be left still more exposed and compelled into even more military spending likewise.

the more russia pushes westward the fewer options nato has and therefore the greater the margin for error on the russian side becomes to not mention russia wouldn’t need to spend so much on defense yes retaking the previous soviet territories is that the ultimate objective by supporting separatist forces moscow aims to put its neighbors in frozen conflicts from which the sole reprieve.

the re-entry into russia’s sphere of influence it is a policy that hasn’t always worked as planned more often than not it has backfired dramatically things are slightly more different to the southeast the caucasus presents a roadblock to geopolitical ambitions it’s the place where great powers have historically converged even today turkish iranian and american influences are proliferating should the russians let their guard down the caucasus would swiftly turn against them the greater caucasus range stretching from sochi by the Black Sea to baku on the caspian grants russia a layer of defense over.

its fertile planes and transportation networks to the north however the north caucasus which is a component of the Russia is a hotbed for extremist movements russia retains control over the region by turning the local actors against one another still to realize long-lasting authority it must anchor by the lesser caucasus mountains and the aras river which runs alongside the southern parameters of georgia armenia and azerbaijan.

these nations structure the south caucasus and control over them would provide the russians with additional layers of protection in the north caucasus it might also mark a firm line separating russia from iran and turkey this is why the Soviet Union extended its borders of everything of the caucasus and russia wants to revive those holdings policy makers in moscow exercise influence over the region by exploiting communal ethnic conflicts the trouble is that the local actors with their localized issues be it chechen separatists or georgia’s nato aspirations are cognizant of the geopolitical weight.

they carry and they tend to tug in rival powers in the strife for influence and power this is what makes the south caucasus a vocal point in regional politics further east is central asia stripped of its soviet borders russia is severely exposed at this flank east of the altai mountains the peaks fall away to rolling grasslands and windswept prairies the kazakh and ponto steps stretch across the broader russian border here the closest geographic hindrance is the ural which leaves a flat gap as wide as 650 kilometers from the Urals to the caspian sea this terrain is indefensible and history proves it for hundreds of years turkic warlords.

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