…But just before the Warsaw summit the tone seemed to change. Putin went to Finland – a rare venture into the EU since Ukraine-related sanctions – where he talked about Baltic security and measures to de-escalate tensions, including a proposal that both Russian and Nato planes obey the rules on transponders. There was none of the fire and brimstone of yore.
Something similar could be said of the Nato side. The language seemed muted. The alliance decided not to establish permanent bases in the east; additional troops will be rotated. And in an answer at his post-summit press conference, the secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, expressly denied that Russia presented “any imminent threat to any Nato ally” – note the word “any” – insisting strong defence should be accompanied by “constructive dialogue”. “The cold war,” he said, “is history, and should remain history.”
Which is why the final consideration may lie in a growing recognition on both sides that all the talk of a new cold war risks being father to the fact. There are still, just about, enough officials in Russia and the west who know what the cold war really entailed: huge standing armies on both sides; large quantities of weapons; ballooning military budgets; and an “iron curtain” that excluded one half of Europe from the global mainstream. It meant a perpetual state of high tension, where any misjudgment held the threat of a nuclear war – the only real deterrent beingmutually assured destruction. Läs artikel