Russia-Nato Tensions

Steven Erlanger writes in the New York Times:

While everyone wants to avoid Russia-NATO tensions, “There are lots of reasons for those tensions, like Ukraine, the Baltics and the Black Sea,” said Camille Grand, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, a policy institution in Paris.
- NATO Unveils Plans to Grow, Drawing Fury and Threats From Russia, NYT, Dec. 2, 2015

Is there any reason to think everyone wants to avoid Russia-NATO tensions? Isn't it more likely that Putin wants such tensions as a means of gaining popular support and distracting Russians from the mismanagement of their country?

The utility of such tensions has long been recognized. Thus in Shakespeare's Henry IV, King Henry advises his son "to busy giddy minds With foreign quarrels":

I... had a purpose now
To lead out many to the Holy Land,
Lest rest and lying still might make them look
Too near unto my state. Therefore, my Harry,
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days.

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