It is a testament to the reputation Bill and Hillary Clinton have acquired over the years that the answer to this question is “Yeah, probably. [Shrug.]”
For some time now, it has been acceptable to argue in polite company that a conflict between major powers is unlikely. Terrorism, state collapse, and ungoverned regions—all combined with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—constitute, in this consensus, the clearest and most present dangers to the security of America and the liberal world order.
How would a major power, theoretically led by rational actors, actually hope to achieve anything by military aggression against a peer, given that a major war is very likely to wreck the global economy, not to mention the devastating possibility than such a conflict could quickly escalate to involve WMDs? As noted military theorist Lt. Commander Ron Hunter once put the matter, “In the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.”
Despite the recent arrests of five suspects hailing from the Chechen region of southern Russia in the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition politician murdered in downtown Moscow on February 28, and the suicide of another suspect following a confrontation with police, commentators, including the United Kingdom’s former ambassador to Russia, have noted that some continue to lay blame at the feet of the Kremlin.
Kiev—Sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion and occupation of both the Crimea and eastern Ukraine have had a negative impact on Russia’s defense industry, cutting off the supply of many important manufacturing components and leaving Moscow’s arms makers ready to consider fulfilling contracts for Iran.