Putin’s goal of ‘breaking NATO’ evokes past Soviet, Roman leaders

The Russian government said this week that the U.S. rejection of demands over Ukraine has left “little optimism” for a resolution of the crisis. Tensions have soared with Russia over concerns that Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine.

Barry Strauss, an expert in military strategy, says Vladimir Putin’s goal is to break NATO, and this is his moment.

“Vladimir Putin is a shrewd, ruthless, and often brutal strategist. He is a throwback not just to Soviet leaders and Russian Tsars but to certain Roman emperors. He thinks big. In Europe, his goal is not merely to control Ukraine, by conquest or intimidation, but to break NATO. He knows that his moment is now," says Strauss, the Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies in the Departments of History and Classics.

“Yet if Putin is an opportunist, it’s in large part because we have given him the opportunity. By cutting domestic oil production and oil imports from Canada, the U.S. has indirectly handed Russia a bonanza in rising energy prices, which funds adventurism abroad.

“By not increasing defense spending or investment in R&D, we weaken our ability to project power," says Strauss. "By not updating and diversifying our defenses against cyberwarfare, a realm in which Russia excels, we leave ourselves vulnerable. By not rethinking and rebuilding our alliance system abroad, we risk preparing for yesterday’s conflicts. In short, Putin’s defiant challenge is a bell tolling in the night – and it tolls for us"

For media inquiries contact Becka Bowyer, (607) 220-4185, rpb224@cornell.edu.

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The head and shoulders of a man wearing a wreath of leaves and a cloak over armor.
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