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Putin’s next big prank is unfolding right under our noses

(Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

As the political leaders of Finland and Sweden stance on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s worst nightmare – Putin is suddenly projecting calm, saying this week that he has “no problem” with Finland and Sweden joining the collective defense body.

“With regard to enlargement, including the accession of two potential new members, Finland and Sweden, I would like to inform you, dear colleagues, that Russia has no problem with these states,” Putin said. Monday at a Russian-led military summit. alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). “No problem at all!”

The somewhat rambunctious claim that he is keeping his cool has grabbed headlines around the world, particularly as his comments stand in stark contrast to some of his previous threats. Earlier this month, Moscow warned of the consequences of NATO expansion, threatening a military response if Finland joined NATO.

“Finland’s NATO membership will cause serious damage to Russian-Finnish bilateral relations and to the maintenance of stability and security in the Northern European region,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. at the beginning of the month. “Russia will be compelled to take retaliatory measures, both military-technical and otherwise, in order to neutralize the resulting threats to its national security.”

But the impending expansion of NATO, which was designed in the first place to counter Russian influence in Europe, is almost certainly causing panic in Putin and his entourage, and all his statements showing that he is keeping his cool are just an act, the former American warn intelligence officials and Putin watchers.

Rather than turn over a new leaf, Putin is probably doing his best to calm his panic over an expanding NATO and bide his time, rather than let his worst NATO fears come true, says Josh Manning , a former Russian military analyst at the Defense Ministry’s European Command.

Putin’s next big prank is unfolding right under our noses

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).


“It was 180 from where they were a few days ago,” Manning told The Daily Beast. “We’ve seen that…throughout this conflict there’s all this bluster, but then when you kind of call them out or actually try to…push the bear, the bear kinda yawns.”

Putin’s veneer of calm over bringing more European nations into NATO, just days after his foreign ministry puffed out its chest over the news, is just a classic example. of the failure of “Russian bluster,” Manning said.

“When you see it unfolding in real time, it really falls apart,” said Manning, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. We “see this kind of backtracking”.

But the statement isn’t just about acting undisturbed – the hindsight from the saber rattles could help give Putin breathing room to reposition himself on the world stage to recover from some of his missteps in the war. war, which has lasted almost three months now without any decisive victory.

Putin’s military forces have suffered heavy losses since the start of the war – they have lost a third of the ground combat force so far, according to UK government intelligence analysis shared this week – and they’ve been unable to achieve most of Putin’s lofty goals, like capturing the Ukrainian capital, since Putin launched the war.

Putin was so confident in his military might that he hatched plans to install a pro-Kremlin puppet regime in Kyiv, which also fell flat.

Putin, at this point, probably feels quite powerless against an expanding NATO, particularly because his plans in preparation for the so-called “special” military operation in Ukraine included demands for NATO to bring back its military build-up to 1997 levels. when NATO membership was much smaller – Dan Hoffman, a former CIA station chief in Moscow, told The Daily Beast.

“He’s saying that not because they’re not a threat, but because he can’t do anything about it,” Hoffman said.

Putin’s seemingly blasé statement this week on Finland and Sweden belies both the fear he has of an expanding NATO and the anxiety he almost certainly feels given that the war in Ukraine has not was not a quick victory or did not go as planned – an already grim reality for Putin who has just accelerated interest in NATO, said Ronald Marks, former special assistant to the deputy director of central intelligence for the military affairs at the CIA, the Daily Beast.

“He’s really taken off base here,” said Marks, a former CIA clandestine service officer. “The invasion didn’t work out the way he planned. They certainly had no idea that he had just given a reason for NATO to come back into existence. And Sweden and Finland are a blow.

In many ways, he rushed the very outcome he didn’t want – a stronger NATO – instead of downgrading it, and now has to accept to sit on his haunches and see the consequences of his poor decision-making. occur.

“He really screwed it up and I think he’s trying to play it down at this point,” Marks said.

Putin’s next big prank is unfolding right under our noses

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is organizing a meeting in Moscow.


However, Putin has not abandoned any stance regarding NATO expansion. Although Putin asserted in remarks earlier this week that there was no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, in the same breath, moments later Putin clarified that he had a problem if there were military implications to their joining – and there almost certainly will be given that NATO is a defense organisation.

“There is no direct threat to Russia in connection with NATO expansion in these countries,” Putin said. “But the extension of its military infrastructure to these territories will certainly elicit a response from us.”

He didn’t go so far as to detail how Russia’s response would shape up or when he would determine what “threats” would arise from Finland and Sweden joining.

“He really imagined himself as being…someone who is one of the main players in the world…and I think he saw it as an escape moment…a way to show off,” Marks said. “And not only did he not, but he embarrassed himself all over the world.”

Now Putin is probably looking for some sort of exit ramp, and pretending that Finland and Sweden aren’t exactly threatening is the perfect way to go.

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