In the weary peace succeeding a morale-sapping Afghan war, Rudyard Kipling has his hoary Bengali spy, Hurree Mookherjee declare: “When everyone is dead, the Great Game is finished. Not before.”
Twenty years after the west sealed a supposedly permanent detente with Russia, the Kremlin has positioned tens of thousands of troops near the border of Ukraine, a country on the EU’s doorstep. As Kipling’s spy has it in Kim – the Victorian book that first conjured the notion of an enduring geostrategic match between Russia and the west – the game has not ended, but the next round has begun…
…The question is whether Nato emerges reinvigorated, or shaken apart. “I think there’s about a one-in-three chance this goes very badly – that it spirals into a new cold war or, if you will, a big freeze,” says Admiral James Stavridis, supreme allied commander at Nato until last May.
“It’s comparable if not slightly more concerning and dangerous than the Balkan crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union,” says Admiral Stavridis, now dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University. “What is additionally disturbing now is the potential for confrontation [directly] with Russia.”
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