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Editorial: From The Ruins Of The Soviet Union Putin Strives To Revive The Russian Superpower

The passing of former US President George HW Bush reminded many that we are approaching the 30th anniversaries of some of the most critical geopolitical events of the second half of the 20th Century. Among these seismic shifts were the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany, the apparent liberation of Eastern Europe from Moscow’s dominion and the concomitant opportunity for the region’s nations to pursue membership in NATO and the EU, and the creation from the wreckage of the USSR of 14 new independent states at least nominally distinct from Russia.

Thirty years ago was indeed a heady time for proponents of democracy and the triumph of western democratic ideals. Bush, a pragmatic Republican internationalist who believed in free markets and personal diplomacy, oversaw it all with considerable skill and wisdom. There was even talk of an economic assistance package for post-Communist Russia based upon the brilliant post-World War II Marshall Plan that enabled a rebuilding Germany to assume a responsible place in the world.

What must Bush have thought toward the end of his life as he contemplated what has happened in the interim?

American and European indifference, shortsightedness and self-indulgence quickly dashed any hopes of another Marshall Plan for Russia. Instead, the world’s largest nation floundered for a number of years before gradually and then decisively falling under the control of Vladimir Putin, a stalwart nationalist who openly pines for the good old days of the superpower duopoly with the United States. In that pre-1990 world, the USSR’s military rivalry with the US put the two nations on an equal footing in some respects and the world was compelled to respect Moscow.

As recently as five years ago, respected American observers were dismissing Russia as “a gas station with a few natural resources in the back yard,” referring to the economic reality that Russian foreign exchange was largely earned by selling oil, natural gas and other mineral wealth it drew from its own soil. Russia was consigned to a secondary status in many Western minds. With the obvious rise of China as a world force in the politico-military as well as economic and commercial spheres, it is still seductively easy to look past sprawling but flawed Russia.

This would be a mistake for the West. Under the wily, determined Putin, Moscow has begun to reassert a place at the big table of international relations. The effectiveness of their skullduggery in the 2016 American elections is now widely assumed and the proof seems to be inexorably dribbling out as the Robert Mueller investigation unfolds in Washington and other courthouses. Long masters of disinformation, the Russians have applied effective Cold War propaganda techniques to social media, using Western democracies’ open societies and civil liberties to undermine the American and European way of life.

Putin’s resolve to turn back the clock on the 30-year independence of the 14 former Soviet republics has been evident for a while. Enjoying favourable relations with most of them already due to historical political, military and/or economic dependencies, Russia has more recently turned westward to focus on Ukraine. Putin’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014 triggered economically painful Western sanctions, but this has not inhibited him from initiating new border skirmishes with Ukraine, both on land and in the narrow sea off Kerch at the entrance to the Sea of Azov. Historically profoundly paranoid, especially during the 20th Century toward the West, Russia is determined that Ukraine will not drift further toward NATO.

Working under the partial cover of the many sinister and worsening US–China trade disputes, Russia has also diplomatically solidified its status in the Middle East, perhaps most significantly with its long-time Black Sea rival Turkey. The Washington Post counts 20 phone calls in the past year between Putin and Turkish President Erdogan, compared with seven between the Turkish leader and the US president. The Saudis and even Israel have given indications they are receptive to warmer relations with Moscow.

For many reasons, these Middle East powers are not likely to abandon the West in favour of Russia. But their closer connections point to a further revival of Russia’s nefarious rise in world politics.

Comments

Porcupine 10 months, 1 week ago

"But their closer connections point to a further revival of Russia’s nefarious rise in world politics." Nefarious, if taken honestly, would point to the likes of the one country that we know for sure upends democracy, assassinates leaders, and militarily occupies sovereign countries. Since WWII, the US has, through NATO, despite giving assurances to the Soviets that this would not happen, move military troops and bases closer to their borders. A recent survey of the world's citizens ranks the US as the most dangerous nation. The U.S. stance, selling of arms and backing some of the world's worst dictators pushes much of the decent world into the arms of Russia. Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and many other countries have been decimated at the behest of the U.S. Take the current love affair with Saudi Arabia. Despite it being a brutal monarchy, devoid of even a nod to democracy, where those born into its ruling class live in unbridled luxury while the vast majority live in oppressed, slave-like conditions, are now using their oil money to buy weapons from the U.S. to bomb one of the poorest countries on earth back into the world's greatest humanitarian crisis. WTF. Editor, your outdated historical analysis should focus on the world opinion, not just your isolated western viewpoint. Russia, in its wildest dreams could not achieve a more nefarious history of biological and chemical warfare, subverting democracy, assassinating freedom fighters, racial inequality, economic inequality, and the open door poilicy of allowing dark money to absolutely control politics, than the U.S. has, and is doing. Please editor, read your history. The truth is out there. Look up Operation Northwoods. No conspiracy. Read General Smedly Butler's, War is a Racket. Read the People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Read an Act of State by William Pepper. Read any of Noam Chomsky's writings to learn the history of military intervention in Latin America, and why oh why there is an influx of immigrants from these countries. Hint, it wasn't Russia. The U.S. spends more on the military then the rest of the world combined. Don't you think it could be possible that those getting these billion dollar contracts MAY be influencing U.S. foreign policy and their penchant for bombing other countries? For god's sake wake the Fluck up. You seem to have been educated by the mass media in the U.S. to see Russia as the true threat to world peace. So sad that we have to keep going back to the basics to bring our educated elite back into the realm of reality.

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

Hear! Hear! Let's HEAR it for REAL NEWS! Good job Porcupine!

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Porcupine 10 months, 1 week ago

Mr. / Mrs. Editorialist and those who question my above comments. Watch this short video and then get back to me. Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies on the War on Terror Watch it on Vimeo. Or go to Top Documentary Films .com

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

Putin & Russia are doing exceptionally well, in spite of the jealous rivalry of the great, insular U.S. of A. Imagine being terrified of a proper meeting with a fellow world leader!

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

Furthermore, the recent Kerch skirmish was obviously orchestrated by the Nazi-minded Ukraine and acted as an excuse for the imposition of martial law on its citizens on the run-up to that country's leadership election.

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