As NATO continues to bolster its defenses in Eastern Europe, and Russia participates in large-scale military exercises that seem to directly approximate war in the Baltics, some could be forgiven for lamenting the arrival of what appears to be a second Cold War.  Russia and the United States, for instance, have already announced contracts for new iterations of the nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles the two states have long relied on to ensure our mutual destruction if ever one nation or the other grew aggressive enough to launch a first strike, and aerial intercepts of Russian aircraft probing the outer perimeter of American and NATO defenses have once again become commonplace.

Politically, Russia has consistently taken a diplomatic position that seeks to counter many American and NATO member led efforts, to include its continued financial and logistical support of Kim Jong un’s North Korean regime.

NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, is perhaps more aware of heightening tensions with Russia than most, as he has found himself responsible for the organization’s efforts to ensure another military annexation like the one Russia executed in Crimea in 2014 would be met with swift military retribution; swift enough, Stoltenberg hopes, that it will prevent them from even trying.  Public perception of these tensions, however, matters almost as much as physical preparation, as diplomacy makes up a great deal of the preamble when it comes to war, or the majority of a successful effort to prevent it.

Stoltenberg said directly that NATO does not want a “new Cold War,” in his statements on Monday in Romania, but that didn’t stop him from citing concerns about Russia.