Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for International Economy on the dangers of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his miscalculations about upsetting the European post-Cold War order:
On the threat scale, I would rate Vladimir Putin between six and seven. NATO expansion adding most Warsaw Pact allies and some former Soviet republics was unexpected and undoubtedly rubbed salt into Putin’s pathological wound. But think of ol’ Vlad, shredding KGB documents in Berlin as the wall came tumbling down. Wouldn’t that and the collapse of the USSR of its own weight have been enough to animate Putin’s resentment and passion for payback even if NATO didn’t expand beyond a unified Germany?
Putin’s quasi-irredentism now centered in Ukraine cuts a number of different ways. He has unintentionally put national security back on the European agenda, and alienated (“betrayed” is her word) Angela Merkel, a key partner. The Baltics and Poland are bolstering their militaries, and the Nordic states are seriously considering joining NATO. He has also done the members of the European Union a backhanded favor by accelerating their efforts to reduce dependence on Russian gas.