Over the last year the divide between Russia and the West has been steadily increasing. Matters have come to a head just recently when party leader Vladimir Putin suspended Russia’s involvement in the CFE agreement (Conventional Forces In Europe). This was a key post cold war settlement and Putin’s decision has been seen as a dangerous political message. It is quite obvious now that the brief meetings between Putin and President George Bush did not amount to much. Can we see the escalating situation as a renewed Cold war?
Whether or not we are seeing history repeat itself, a re-occurrence of “containment” or just some claims for equal treatment from Moscow; this matter is bound to have some serious repercussions. The United Nations Security council for one is going to fall victim to this new political episode. Important matters such as Iran, Korea and the future of Kosovo are currently being pressed through the UN negotiations. If Vladimir Putin’s aggression continues than we may see the re-emergence of the notorious and infamous Russian veto vote in the United Nations. The political stand off or stalemate as we may call it will only produce harmful effects which will hamper peace efforts in the United Nations. Having said this we must also be aware of the weakened state of the Russia.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 the country shrunk in size, strength and power. It lacks the ability to play the war of words with the United States. This new aggressive Russia also lacks the much needed allies to pursue such a policy. However what we are seeing here is definitely a renewal of will. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Russia backed of from the political limelight. It focused more on cooperation with the West alongside peaceful co-existence.
As party matters collapsed into internal affairs with Boris Yeltsin and the following presidents – Russia’s problems became more internalized. The international scene became a smaller sphere of influence for Russian affairs. Now Russia stands up to the West for the first time, in a very long time. We find ourselves asking questions of the past. Can there once again be two power blocs? Will there be a balance of terror? Is this the beginning of a second Cold war?