While out future president, whoever that may be, accuse each other of being tools of Vladimir Putin (hint, they are both right) it is clear that Europe is taking Vladimir Putin’s adventurism as more than just posturing.
Lithuania is worried about Russia’s intentions to the extent that the government has issued a booklet to its citizens telling them how to act during a Russian invasion:
…[T]the Lithuanian government has Friday issued a 75-page guide on what to do if the country is invaded, entitled “Prepare to survive emergencies and war.”
“Attention needs to be paid to the actions of the neighboring country — Russia,” says the manual.
“This country does not hesitate to use a military force against its neighbors, and at this moment it basically continues the military aggression against Ukraine.”
It notes the Russian method of using “denial and ambiguity” at the beginning of an invasion and warns: “It is most important that the civilians are aware and have a will to resist — when these elements are strong, an aggressor has difficulties in creating an environment for military invasion.”
There is nothing cheerful about the latest edition, which details how Lithuanians should spy and inform on the enemy if Russia succeeds in occupying part of the country.
There are also detailed images of Russian-made tanks, grenades, mines and guns and instructions on how to recognize different types. Further instructions cover first aid and surviving in the wild.
(If you read Lithuanian you can view the whole document here)
Seen as a discrete event, this is really indicative of nothing more than a well-founded paranoia by the Lithuanian government. But it isn’t. Poland is also reinvigorating its historic militias:
The politics of Poland preclude the country from reinstating military conscription, like neighboring Lithuania did last year. But fears over Russian aggression has thousands of young people lining up to join Poland’s historic militias.
Known as the Riflemen’s Associations, some have century-old roots that predate the Polish state, when underground forces fought Russian Bolsheviks and Moscow’s communists.
To say that Poland has no desire to live under Moscow’s heel again is an understatement, and the government knows it, which is why it’s backing the resurgence of the old militias.
“It helps to have a better trained, better skilled pool of people that can be called into military service at a time of crisis,” explains [Polish Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defense, Tomasz] Szatkowski.
There is well founded fear in Eastern Europe of Russia taking advantage of the feckless foreign policy of Barack Obama and the undoubtedly equally fecklessness we will see in the next four years regardless of who is elected in two weeks.
Montenegro held an election as it considers joining NATO. The Russians aren’t amused by this prospect:
Montenegro’s prime minister suggested Tuesday that Russia was involved in an alleged coup attempt on the country’s election day and he accused the opposition of collaborating with the Kremlin.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said there was “a strong connection of a foreign factor” in the Oct. 16 vote, which was marked by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning armed attacks against Djukanovic and his supporters after parliamentary election results were announced.
Russia has strongly opposed Montenegro’s bid to join NATO. Opposition leaders have made frequent visits to Moscow ahead of the vote.
The Montenegro prosecutor’s office has alleged the group planned to attack people in front of Parliament after the vote results were proclaimed, then storm the building and arrest Djukanovic.
Among those arrested was a former commander of Serbia’s special police forces.
The last sentence tells you most of what you need to know about this plot.
As many seasoned observers have noted, Russia under Vladimir Putin is actually a post-ideological entity. It is a Mafia State. An ongoing criminal enterprise at every level and function of government. In order to survive as its leader, Putin ahs to be seen as constantly winning, as the man who is controlling the destiny of Russia — and the world. To maintain that image he doesn’t have the ability to let slights go unpunished. If you try to explain Putin’s actions by mere geopolitics you will be left flummoxed. But if you think of it as the actions of a criminal mob it actually becomes a lot more logical. Bullying smaller nations, carving out bits of their territory, interfering in their elections, kidnapping their citizens all make sense if you think of it in terms of Putin expanding his control over the Russian oligarchy and centers of power.