Since the fall of The Wall, the Russian military has seen better days.  It went from a force of four million men and $400+ billion budget, to 1.5 million active and a $90 billion budget today, but Russia has consciously invested in raising the quality of its forces over the last decade.

This year has demonstrated some of the most extensive exercises since the Cold War, portending new Russian capabilities and the will to flex them.  The event that brought this to the forefront of my attention was the troublesome response by Russia to NATO joint exercises in Poland and Latvia.

A 7,000-man joint NATO exercise in Poland and Latvia has irked Russia because it’s happening in former Russian client states.Exercise Steadfast Jazz tests how the Western alliance could deploy rapid reaction forces to its eastern flank an area that has had a couple of Russian exercises this year.  The NATO Rapid Reaction Force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces is slated to participate in the exercise.

Consider this…

-The Russians conducted exercises consisting of 160,000 troops off of Japan in July 2013.

-The Russians conducted exercise consisting of 7,000 troops near the Ukraine and Georgia in Mar 2013.

-The Russians conducted more exercises with Belarus in the same region with 22,000 troops in Sep. The exercise included simulated nuclear strikes on Poland.

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-Finally, last month the Soviets conducted an exercise where four ICBMs were launched as a simulated attack, while simultaneously conducting anti-ballistic missile exercises on separate missile launches.

Russia irked?  From my perspective, “The lady doth protest too much…”

Russia has always been a strong public proponent for spheres of influence in the world.  The US has also, but not to the same degree.  The past has demonstrated issues over “spheres of influence” which have often ignited conflict between the US and Russia.  Russia’s recent role in the forefront of the Syria situation is also a blast from the past.  This is all food for thought for many who think the Cold War actually ended.