"Russia's new policy, Putin's next target will be in Europe"
The former Georgian president thinks it could instead be a non-NATO European country, like Sweden or Finland.
As Saakashvili writes in his opinion piece published in Foreign Policy, recently "reports emerged that a new Kremlin policy will require all international naval ships to give Russia 45 days' notice before entering the Northern Sea Route, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Arctic waters north of Siberia."
Every vessel on the route, where Russia has invested heavily in sophisticated military infrastructure, will also be required to have a Russian maritime pilot on board, he continues.
"Ships found in violation of these restrictions may be forcibly halted, detained, or—in unspecified 'extreme' circumstances - 'eliminated'," he stated.
"Kremlin's latest threat has gone largely unnoticed, perhaps because it's no surprise. Russian officials justify the new naval restrictions with a familiar explanation, claiming that 'the more active naval operations in the Arctic of various foreign countries' require such a response," wrote Saakashvili.
He added that this is the same tactic that Putin has been using for years in order to "justify his military adventurism."
"From Georgia in 2008, to Ukraine in 2014, to Syria in 2015, Putin has always laid the blame for Russian aggression squarely at the West's feet," he said, while "Kremlin-backed media outlets amplify this message as evidence of Russophobia."
Many wonder what Putin gains from pushing this narrative. In violating international norms, he has become a global pariah. US and European sanctions have dealt serious blows to Russia's already dismal economy—raising the question of why would Putin pay such a staggering price to carve out a few more pieces of...