Watching Russian media, I often get the impression, they truly believe, American attack on them is being prepared. In midst of exagerated praise for Russian military might, there is real fear, that past moves point to a larger plan, to isolate Russia, move bases to its borders and sooner or later launch a massive attack.
It didn’t help, NATO broke their promise, not to expand eastwards, taking in countries like Poland or Latvia. Supporting violent protests in Ukraine, to get rid of Janukovich government, showed the Russians, that color revolutions are still a thing to be aware of. After Putin anexed Crimea in response and Ukraine descended into civil war, sanctions were imposed and hysteria followed in the western mainstream media. Russians were to blame for everything. In the end, even for the results of US presidential elections.
It really must seem even to ordinary Russians, western public is being conditioned for war. Demonization of their country can be only a prelude to some larger event, which then US government and their allies use as casus belli. Next thing, cruise missiles start raining on Russian cities.
But, is that really the case? Are Americans preparing for war, to destroy one of their greatest competitors in the world? Surelly, Europeans are now so weak, they don’t have any such grand plans and anyway, they would be on the frontlines. But Americans? Probably not.
How would a war between United States and their allies on one side and Russia on the other, look like? Would it be possible to limit it to a smaller area, like Ukraine or Estonia? Would it not quickly escalate, with larger and larger forces coming into play? Russians would try to act on their own plans, trusting through Latvia to Kaliningrad and then further into Poland and even Germany, destroying vital infrastructure, blocking ports and so on, with the intent to force some NATO members out of the war. All that, before their numerical inferiority would force them to retreat. Would tactical nuclear weapons be used on larger concentrations of troops? Would Russians panic, if a large NATO army pushed towards Moscow and launch an all out nuclear attack?
Total anihilation is reason enough, not to start the next world war. Nobody can guarantee a limited, conventional war, therefore it is better, not to try anything.
And yet, if we take the millitary option out of the picture, there is a war going on, albeit a different one. What are sanctions other than war with non millitary means? What is all the propaganda, all diplomatic moves to isolate a country further? We can be certain, there are moves behind the scenes, to make life harder for Russian population and then support mass protests and opposition leaders and cause some sort of color revolution. Even just slowing Russian economic growth can be enough, to limit their power on the world stage. Combine that with fear being implanted in East Europeans hearts, forcing them to invest more money into their armed forces. Russians will have to respond with higher defence spending, taking money out of other projects, making them poorer in the long run.
As a direct millitary confrontation seem unlikely, there are other ways to wage war. By proxy, like in Ukraine or Syria, with sanctions and diplomacy. Even with preventing Russian athletes to attend the Olympics.
And then there is a different explanation for all the focus on Russia. Creating a powerful external enemy can be more than helpful, if you want to divert attention. In the United States, electoral defeat is being blamed on foreign interference, because that way, democrats don’t need to admit, they ran a bad candidate. In European states fearmongering, Russians are behind every eurosceptic political party, makes such political forces look like working for foreign interests and so helps maintain the status quo. It is the same with all the talk about fake news and moves to ban Russian media, or at least make it harder for them to reach their audience. There have always been lies in the media and that is not the real issue. The real problem are alternatives, preventing big media to shape public opinion to their liking. It is internal and pointing fingers at the Russians, serves mostly to silence domestic oposition.
We must be aware of one more thing. This works in Russia as well, as powerfull foreign enemies are used to push the population in certain direction. It is no surprise, Vladimir Putin has such advantage over his opponents and will win the presidential elections.