The West Vs. Russia On A Global Scale

To a certain point, taking aside all the sanctions imposed by the US and EU to thwart Russian actions within Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, Moldova etc. this world has become globalized and Russia is too big, rich and interconnected to be bullied or refrained to take actions in its immediate proximity and even worldwide. Russia simply has many other options, apart from the West. When in office, President Obama said that the American policy is to isolate Russia, and during that same time, Putin has signed with foreign partners more financial, political, economic and military agreements than Washington has.

Russian experts have predicted with certitude that if the West will continue to isolate Russia, it will not make it more cooperative and compliant. Instead it will turn its vision towards China for example, that is particularly dangerous for the West, and to other regions that harbour regimes that resent the US and EU, as we have seen in Syria with Bashar al Assad and Turkey with Erdogan. Russia will sell them: nuclear reactors, excellent weapons, it will give them credit and it will protect them politically at the United Nations with its veto.

According to Vladimir Pozner, it is the US that created Putin. Russia never had democracy, it never understood it. After the fall of the Soviet Union the US could’ve invested in the expansion of democracy and see to that Communism doesn’t come back, as they did in Europe after WWII in the countries where fascism thrived, with the Marshall Plan. Instead they chose to exclude Russia, based upon the presumption that the Soviet Union with its nuclear power, held the world on its toes for 40 years, and now that they have lost the Cold War, they were going to pay for it. The following paragraph shows exactly that same US Government held policy. The turnover crisis in Russia, from 1991 to 1993, made it especially significant and implied already a unilateral world.

In the early 90’s, Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defence under George H.W. Bush, responsible for policy, produced a document that came to be unofficially known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which was later incorporated in what officially was the Bush Doctrine. That document was leaked to the NY Times, and became public. What it basically implied is that the US should never allow anyone to challenge it. It was widely criticized as imperialist as the document outlined a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military action to suppress potential threats from other nations and prevent any other nation from rising to superpower status. Such was the outcry, that it was quickly removed and rewritten by Cheney and the secretary of defence Powell, but basically kept the same idea. Many of its tenets re-emerged in the Bush Doctrine, which was described by Senator Edward M. Kennedy as 'a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.' Russia was no longer a world superpower and in the world affairs it should simply keep quiet. This became evident, even in the times of Gorbachev, when he was pressured in 1989 by several world politicians to tear down the Berlin Wall. James Baker, US Secretary of the Treasury, in an unofficial meeting said to Gorbachev that if this happened, NATO would not move one step eastward. This was dismissed as disinformation, but on December 12th 2017, the National Defence Archives of G. Washington University declassified the documentation of the Baker-Gorbachev conversation, and it is there. Indeed NATO stood put until the second mandate of Bill Clinton in 96, when it decided to enlarge to the east encompassing three new countries, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic.

In May 1998, George F. Kennan, in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, foresaw the perils of NATO expansion, telling Friedman “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war…I think the Russians will react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies, I think it is a tragic mistake.” That decision is what really started this sour relation between USA and Russia. But from 1985, with Gorbachev’s Perestroika, until 2007 with Putin’s second mandate, it is true that you cannot find many Russian foreign policies that would in any way, anger or disappoint the United States. What did Russia get out of that: the enlargement of NATO; then the bombing on Yugoslavia, then the recognition of Kosovo; in the early 2000 Putin asks to become a member of NATO, but is utterly denied; then accession to the European Union, also denied, saying that Russia is too big.

One thing that must be kept in mind, that Russia, very much alike the US, believes that their country was selected by destiny to fulfil a special mission, that with their great past they have a greater future. And the sense of losing this aura of greatness, in an exclusive world arena dominated by the United States, the Russians came to blame Gorbachev of selling their country, and then the same for Yeltsin. The next step was Putin’s speech in 2007, Feb.10th in Munich, speaking to the TWENTY. He said: “I think it is obvious that NATO’s expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust, and we must ask against whom is this expansion intended. And what happened with the assurance of our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of the General Secretary Manfred Wörner of Brussels of May 17th 1990, I quote: “the fact that we are not ready to place a NATO army outside of German territory, gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee” where are those guarantees?” The answer that was given to Putin was that those guarantees were given to the USSR and not to Russia. Putin’s 2016 foreign policy speech entailed the following: “Our mistake was that we trusted you too much, and your mistake was that you tried to take advantage of that”.

What we have today is a result of all those past badly shaped policies. The west distrusts Russia and conversely, Russia resents the policies applied towards it by the western alliance. And the situation that we see in the countries of Moldova and Ukraine, where the Russian influence is felt 30 years after their independence, with no doable democratization policies to be implemented in the near future. These countries are held captive not only by their own corrupt governments, but also by Russian influence that pays these politicians to remain loyal to the East. 

16 August 2021
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