Since I research and write on what I have begun to think of as “Deep History”, I normally don’t get involved with the temptation of predicting the future. However Creating Chaos (now available for preorder on both Amazon and at OR Books) led me much further into contemporary events and those events are playing out in such an obvious fashion that I can no longer help myself.
There is going to be a Trump/Putin Summit meeting in the near future, Putin has already proposed it and Trump will follow up on it before the upcoming American elections. The primary discussion at the meeting will be moves to address the dramatic “rebuild” of the Russian and American nuclear arsenals, not just in regard to megaton class weapons systems but the rebirth of the type of tactical nuclear weapons which had essentially been taken off the table during the first Bush presidency and seemed about to totally be eliminated under Obama.
If you have been following my blog posts you know that during the last three to four years, Putin has returned tactical nukes to the forefront of Russian weapons development (announcing hyper-sonic delivery systems and most recently displaying an aircraft carried, long range atomic cruise missile). Russian Federation military doctrines have also begun to publicly tout the use of tactical nukes in a number of scenarios.
While most of Putin’s military announcements have been in regard to weapons of mass destruction – new ground and mobile ICBMS, new Russian ballistic missile subs and ICBM’s, an atomic powered global cruise missile and even “continent” killer fusion torpedoes – his touting of the unique unstoppable, inter-continental cruise missiles is something else entirely, suggesting Russia can remotely intervene anywhere on the globe it chooses. It is actually quite reminiscent of Nikita Khrushchev’s initial announcement of Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
All this nuclear sword waving is rather different than the current Chinese military initiatives which are very much focused on the China Sea resources and its land route into Africa. China clearly has strategic resource control as its primary strategy, and its growing military presence in Africa reflects that.
Putin’s tactical goals are something else entirely. Given that Russia’s financial resources are actually far more limited than China’s, his tactical moves and successes suggest that he is actually both highly focused and amazingly skilled (or lucky, either counts). There is simply no way that Russia’s economy will support the large scale deployment of the advanced weapons he is developing and touting – even given his immense success in working with OPEC in raising the price of oil over the last few months, oil prices being his greatest political exposure.
However in working with OPEC and by making what was actually a very modest investment in aircraft and manpower in Syria, he reinserted Russia’s role in the Middle East with minimal expense (although the cost in Russian military contract employees was considerable, such shadow warfare is generally a low risk political gambit and the Russians have always been better at it than the U.S.). The following story gives a bit more detail on what Russia can and cannot afford in the terms of real world military force projection:
So…Putin has proposed a nuclear summit to Trump and I predict it will happen. And as with Putin’s proposal some months ago that the best way to engage with North Korea would be to suspend U.S. / South Korean military exercises, I suspect Putin is already floating some very attractive “deals”. Deals which will in truth give up nothing (since Russia can’t afford to build all the highly advanced weapons Putin has been showcasing) but will give Putin more of what he truly wants. Which will be the subject of Part 2 of this series of posts.