A full year after Russia stepped into the Syrian quagmire on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow has come to rival and challenge the US and NATO in virtually every arena possible.
Here’s a quick glance at what Russia has accomplished just in the last month or so:
- Likely bombed a UN humanitarian aide convoy trying to provide relief to besieged Aleppo, derailing joint US and Russian peace talks.
- Continued to strike civilian targets in Syria — using chemical weapons, experts have said — exacerbating the refugee crisis in Europe. US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove has even gone as far as to accuse Russia of purposefully attacking civilians, “weaponizing” the flow of refugees into Europe.
- Sent nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, Russia’s European enclave.
- Suspended an agreement with the US to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium because of what Russia viewed as “unfriendly” acts by the US.
- Sent additional missile defense batteries to Syria, and even threatened to shoot down US planes flying in Syria without warning.
- Participated in military drills with China in the South China Sea, where China hasillegally annexed and militarized artificial islands.
- Likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and other US government agencies and leaked the information to the public in an effort to delegitimize the US’s upcoming election and destabilize the country at large.
Without a doubt, relations between Russia and the West have reached their lowest point since the height of the Cold War.
Retired Russian Lt. Gen. Evgeny Buzhinsky told the BBC that for its part, Russia sees the West as the belligerent party, citing sanctions against Russia as well as barring the Russian Paralympic team from the Rio Olympics for well-documented and state-sponsored doping as Western aggression against Russia.
“Of course there is a reaction. As far as Russia sees it, as Putin sees it, it is full-scale confrontation on all fronts. If you want a confrontation, you’ll get one,” Buzhinsky told the BBC. “But it won’t be a confrontation that doesn’t harm the interests of the United States. You want a confrontation, you’ll get one everywhere.”