The Return of Russia: A 21st Century Missile Crisis in the Making


Memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis abound with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talking about refueling nuclear capable bombers 90 miles off our shores in Cuba. Now that’s not exactly the peace dividend we expected from the end of the cold war!  The fact is that a new cold war has begun and the Russian Federation is likely to be a more formidable foe then the Soviet Union.  The Soviets had an ideology to guide them and in spite of being an atheist state, they were not suicidal and they seemed to respect the idea that humankind should not be wiped out.  You could deal with the Soviets as long as you had their military respect. The Berlin Airlift did succeed, the Soviet Union did withdraw the missiles from Cuba, and they didn’t lash out when they disintegrated in the late 80’s and early nineties. However brutal the Soviet Regime was; they could be counted on not to cross the line of planetary suicide. Survival was as much a value for them as for the West.  That may not be true in today’s world where the personality and machismo of a national leader and the drive to win influence in the world has achieved paramount importance. Consider the following quote from a Reuter’s story. (URL link to this story follows this article)

“The Kremlin is angry at U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, and last month a news report suggested Russia might use Cuba, a thorn in America’s side for half a century, as a refueling stop for nuclear-capable bombers.”

The Kremlin is angry with us!  President Bush has been pushing this missile shield in Europe and by now the Russians are livid with their European neighbors for thinking that deploying such a system might be a good idea. The United States and Europe all claim it’s to keep countries like Iran, terrorists, or some other rouge regime from launching a nuke; but our Russian friends seem skeptical of that explanation.  The Russians are taking it personally acting as though this shield is to protect Europe from them as much, or more, than some “rogue regime” and they’re correct. 

We used to believe that it was communism that made the Soviet Union our enemy and that communism must be opposed at any cost.  It turns out that many of the Soviet satellite states of old have dreams of integrating with Western Europe and it’s Vladimir Putin who has dreams of restoring the Soviet Empire under the new Russian Federation. The dreams of Putin and the hopes of these states to emerge from Russian hegemony are diametrically opposed and something, or someone, is going to have to give.

“Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday said it was time for Russia to rebuild links with former Cold War ally Cuba, news agencies reported….   “We need to reestablish positions on Cuba and in other countries,” news agency Interfax quoted Putin as saying at the weekly presidium meeting of key government ministers….”

The more things change the more they stay the same!  There is a price to pay for interfering with Russia’s aims and policies, just as there was in the days of the Soviet Union.  If the United States wants to change the strategic situation in the Russian sphere of influence; then we must expect them to interfere in our sphere of influence.  This is a move steeped in Soviet history and to see it played out on the world stage today suggests that the “peace dividend” is over. Clearly the Russians don’t see themselves as the Russians but as a more benevolent fascist cousin who still sees the boarders of Russia as those of the old Soviet Union. It brings up a fundamental question that we in the West need to reconsider: Were we having a cold war with the Communists all those decades or were we having a cold war with Russia?  It’s a question whose time has come don’t you think? If Russia intends to “reestablish positions on Cuba and in other countries” as now appears to be happening: it begs the question, how far do they intend to go in this regard? Now that the Russians are feeling economically stronger, moving to dominate petroleum production and supplies, which countries do they want back?

“Putin’s remarks came after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin reported on a recent three-day visit to Cuba, where he discussed a raft of trade and investment issues and met with Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and now the island’s leader…..”We agreed on a priority direction for cooperation, this being energy, the mining industry, agriculture, transport, health care and communications,” news agency RIA quoted Sechin as saying…..”

Vexed by the defection and disenchantment of the old Soviet satellite states, the Russians are filled with the urge to aid Cuba and provide help with their energy, food, and health care needs just as the Soviets did.  Someone just happens to hear that the humanitarian aid being offered to the Cubans might include refueling some Russian Nuclear Bombers. What’s the big deal?   Haven’t we all sung this song before?  The last time the Soviets tried to get Nuclear Weapons into Cuba the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. ended up burning all their secret documents and our navies were eyeball to eyeball with their fingers twitching on the trigger. Mankind stood on the brink of the unthinkable and by some miracle it was agreed that the missiles would go back to the Soviet Union. Of course in those days John F. Kennedy was found to be made of sterner stuff then what we can expect of Barak Obama and the Socialist Democrats of today.

How will the next President respond to the likelihood that the Russians will test them with refueling Russian Nuclear Bombers in Cuba?  Twenty years ago I would have been sure that I knew the answer to that question but today: I suspect that we might submit a testy protest letter instead of letting Putin know that we see him for what he is and he better behave himself. The Republicans and Democrats were united in opposition to Soviet games in those days but today they’re lost in their own ideological struggles, not paying attention to the needs of the country. We haven’t been united as Americans in a long time and now even the idea of a shared culture is considered racist and oppressive by the Democrat brain trust. If we try to face down the new Czar of all the Russia’s, Vladimir Putin, as a divided tribe of socialists and traditionalists; Putin is bound to emerge the victor.  How would the next president respond to such a test?  Your guess is as good as mine.


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