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War with Russia is not hypothetical and our lumbering bureaucracy is unprepared for it

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In his recent annual “town hall,” Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinJohn Kerry to visit Moscow officials to discuss ‘global climate ambition’ Hillicon Valley: Warren asks SEC to take closer look at cryptocurrency exchanges | Maryland town knocked offline as part of massive ransomware attack | Huawei hires three new lobbying firms The New START extension lacks critical points for strategic stability MORE signaled his resolve to take Moscow’s confrontation with Washington to the next level — an outright war that, in his view, the United States is unable to win. Having served as a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence officer for Russian doctrine and strategy, I am concerned that our government bureaucracy is indeed woefully unprepared for a full-on war with Russia, which appears to be a hypothetical scenario no longer. 

In his staged Q&A session with ostensibly ordinary Russian citizens, Putin answered questions, almost certainly planted by the Kremlin, regarding the June 23 incident involving the Russian and British militaries in the Black Sea. The incident, in which Russia claimed to chase a British destroyer out of Crimea waters, clearly demonstrates that the U.S.-NATO and Russian military policies are on a collision course, risking a kinetic war — one the Kremlin apparently believes is inevitable.

A British Navy destroyer sailed close to Crimea, which Russia considers its sovereign territory in the aftermath of the Ukrainian peninsula’s annexation by Putin. The United States and NATO do not recognize Crimea as Russian and claim the ship’s movements were in accordance with international law. Moscow, however, views the incident as a violation of its territorial waters. The Russian government said its military fired a warning shot to keep the British warship away, a claim that the Brits dispute. Moscow also admonished the West that it will not issue any warning if its perceived sovereign territory is breached in the future, implying that it will go straight for the kill. We’ve witnessed Moscow’s willingness to take risks in situations that it considers as having high stakes. The Russians, and the Soviets before them, were blamed…

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