In one of the key justifications for the new $600 billion defense spending request, the Department of Defense has fallen back on a tried-and-true Cold War boogeyman: the threat of Russian aggression against allies in Europe. While there is no ignoring the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, to interpret these events as some kind of Russian “resurgence” is to grossly inflate the danger Russia poses to NATO and the United States.
Ukraine and Georgia were targeted precisely because they fell outside ofU.S. security guarantees, lacked significant strategic importance to the west, and, most importantly from the Russian viewpoint, were making overt moves toward NATO membership. Russia has long opposed the expansion of NATO into its traditional sphere of influence. The reasons are rooted in a history of aggression from Western Europe, as memories of the devastation meted out by Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler still linger.This article was originally published in Defense One.