ANALYSIS – With Russia formally recognising the sovereignty of Crimea and quickly moving towards making her part of the Russian Federation, not forgetting also the thousands of troops stationed along the border with east Ukraine, and of course the reassurance from John Kerry to the Baltic states that the US would not allow her go the way of Crimea, are we looking at a new cold war?
Moscow has made it clear that it does not fear any recriminations whether financial or military from the West when it is confronted by a clear threat on its own backyard from NATO. A more assertive Russia also plays well with Russians inside and outside the country for whom there are still bitter memories of how their nation suffered after the fall of Communism. If Iran had managed to function whilst being locked out of the financial system, why can’t Russia do the same through trading with China and South east Asia. And with an emerging middle class of consumers who have also seen what life is really like in the West, Russia has plenty of reason to feel confident about its future.
So, how does that leave the West?
Putin clearly does not fear the US, seeing Washington’s military actions since the fall of Communism as the actions of a weak power. The Kremlin clears doubts also the ability of the West to regain the dominant economic footing on which it so confidently dictated its values to the world. Moscow and Beijing’s actions in blocking security authorisation for intervention in Syria was a clear signal to the West that the ‘World’ does not mean that only western values and opinions count.
One possible response to this in America would be the emergence of a reactionary Republican government in the next Presidential elections, perhaps similar to the one headed by Ronald Reagan in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution that occurred on Jimmy Carter’s watch. Then, America pursued an arms race with the Soviet Union that included the ‘Star Wars’ project, the straw that eventually broke the back of the mighty Russian military.