Just this month the 2nd Cavalry Regiment completed a road march in tactical vehicles from Vilseck, Germany to Tapa, Estonia. That is the equivalent of driving from Dallas, Texas, to Washington D.C. to give you some perspectives. Europeans were mostly supportive of the “assurance measure” of the public display of US Soldiers on allied soil.
As a side note, I can only imagine the batshit hysteria that would happen if two Battalions worth of armored fighting vehicles really did travel from Dallas, TX to Washington D.C. The internet would explode with another round of “Jade Helm” conspiracies mixed in with “it’s gonna be a coup!” wishful thinking conspiracies.
But, since the mission was not to give the American conspiracy class more fuel, but to assure allies of US intent to support NATO and work on turning the NATO forces in Europe into a truly “plug and play” fighting force along NATO standards, all the talk is about what Russia will do next. So far Russia has done the predictable, hold a “snap drill” to test the readiness of forces to repel an invasion of the motherland, and tell Poland and Romania that “they are in the cross hairs” (which comes after last years direct threat to point nukes at the European superpower known as, ahem, “Denmark” over linking a single Destroyer into a missile defense radar array).
So that’s that, Russia blusters, and bitches, and threatens. Russia also works really hard to plant ideas into the public sphere that will make Europe less powerful, in order to make Russia more influential in Europe. Seriously the Russian IO campaign is constant, like white noise, and if someone isn’t familiar with the subject matter, may not think twice about buying a story from Russia Today or Sputnik News and repeating it as fact (something that happens WAY more than it should).
So to understand WHY Russia is being such a dick, you need to understand that Russia really believe that being a dick is in their own best interest. It’s like the book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” by Neil Gauss, only that normal people aren’t pickup artists and the people who are are really a bit sociopathic in their need to perform at the game of the pickup. Russia wants “influence” in Europe, and just like a pickup artist wants to succeed at seduction, Russia is doing what it can to gain that influence. And Russia is simply using the nation state equivalent to “negging” (clearly described in “The Game” by Strauss) to be a dick to get what it wants.
Since there really isn’t one book titled, “The Russians: Why They Act Like Assholes on the International Stage and What to do About it” (which would be a terrible title, most Russians are in fact lovely people, but the cultural tendency to approve of autocratic tyrants doesn’t make them easy to love as a nation), I’ve put together some of the stuff I’ve been reading to help anyone interested in understanding Russian motivations. Which are largely Putin’s motivations right now, but he will leave a lasting impression on Russian politics. We can’t assume that whoever replaces Putin will be the opposite (the way Obama didn’t turn out to be the opposite of Bush on any single major foreign policy choice ever).
So without further preamble…
Russia’s Perception Warfare: http://www.militairespectator.nl/sites/default/files/bestanden/uitgaven/Militaire%20Spectator%204-2016.pdf
Russia’s Military Doctrine (what influenced Valery Gerasimov and Vladimir Putin), hat tip to DW:
Unrestricted Warfare (a 1999 publication that has bearing on current Russian and Chinese operations focused on regional hegemony), hat tip to “B” for sharing this years ago: http://www.c4i.org/unrestricted.pdf
Getting Gerasimov Right: http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20160228_art009.pdf