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The US and the Russian Federation: Is reset really possible?
Republican Senators, John McCain, John Barrasso, John Hoeven and Ron Johnson after completing their visit to Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova, wrote the following in the Washington Post, published on 26 April, 2014:

"It should be clear to all that Putin's Russia has taken a dark turn. There is no resetting this relationship. We cannot return to business as usual....Western countries had high hopes for our relationships with Russia after the Cold War and acted on that basis. We provided billions of dollars to help Russia's transition from communism. We created new mechanisms for consultation. We expanded trade. NATO committed not to deploy significant military capabilities onto the territory of new alliance allies, even as it expanded. In short, the West sought to include Russia in the promise of a Europe whole, free and at peace - a vision we still believe would benefit all participants.

Unfortunately, hope of a constructive relationship with Russia under Putin has vanished. A friendly rival has become, at best, an unfriendly adversary. Putin will not compromise his quest to dominate Russia's sovereign neighbors... Ultimately, Putin's actions in Ukraine require a strategic response. This does not mean a new Cold War. But it does require recognizing Putin's geopolitical challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe and preparing for a more competitive relationship with Russia.

NATO must recommit to its core missions of deterrence and collective defense. This requires a rebalancing of the alliance's force posture and presence. NATO military capabilities must be increased and more evenly distributed across the alliance, including a more robust and persistent presence in Central Europe and the Baltic countries. Some steps in this direction are underway; these actions must be sustainable and enduring.

For NATO to do more for its members, its members have to do more for themselves and the alliance. The United States must reverse harmful cuts to its defense budget. And NATO allies must meet their commitment to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense as soon as possible."

The summary is that the Republican Senators want fitting reply from Obama administration to the Russian Federation's recent provocative actions in Ukraine. However, the argument that one needs to accept is that Russia is a different country though its majority is Caucasian White. Russia was never ever like the West and it can never be like one even in a converging shrinking world. But then Russian state is militarily very powerful with it having vast natural resources and therefore, it matters a lot to the rest of the world, particularly to its European neighbors.

The European Union (EU) is a must for a better prosperous Europe despite of some objections of conservatives in the US. It is indeed a global model for regional peace, security, cooperation and stability. In order for the idea of Europe to flourish the boundaries of European countries must be stable and war in the region should be avoided at all cost. The fact is that the EU is no threat to Russia though its integration and monetary union may harm some of American economic interests and may challenge the global dominance of the USD in totality.

But Russia does not like the European model either. Somehow, Russian state wants to retake its old empire. It's an old wish and must have been present in the mind of Boris Yeltsin as well. In fact it is the institutional wish of Russian state and blaming Vladimir Putin personally is of not much use. Sure, Mr. Putin should be believing in a short window of opportunity to retake former Soviet Republics somehow or minimally Russia having decisive influence over ethnic Russians spread all over its neighborhood. No former Soviet Republic can take over the might of Russian military which is the second most powerful one in the world.

The irony is that Russian Federation is using modern Western arguments about human rights, freedom and liberty to argue for its intervention to reclaim ethnic Russian-dominated territories in Ukraine and around. It has no other option but to make lame excuses. The fact is that Ukraine authorities have hardly used any proportionate force against the Russian separatists fearing the possibility of eruption of full blown up war with Russian forces. But still, it has not, while the Russian Federation has violated a 1994 agreement to respect Ukraine sovereignty in return for the former keeping control over nuclear arsenal at Black Fleet; one of the deadliest in the world.

Now conservative lawmakers and many liberals too want a tough US response to Russian military misadventure. I tell you, even if a Republican administration was placed in the White House at this time, it would not have considered an armed response to the Ukraine crisis so seriously. It would have dealt with Russia rather differently in a tougher manner as compared to Obama administration. But the reality is that something urgent needs to be done to contain the rising Russian aggressiveness near its border regions.

The suggestions made by the Republican Senators include a tough and more robust military preparedness and strengthening of NATO forces on one hand and replacing Russian energy supply to the EU member nations and Russians neighbors by alternatives on the other. I tell you both are required but both are insufficient.

The fact is that the Pentagon and the NATO cannot hurt Russian strategic ego beyond a point near Russian land and sea borders or else Russia could destabilize the world strategically, that too in its favor and against the interests of the West. The rising competing, conflicting, drifting consciousness has a consequence of acceptance of communism in veiled form though capitalism would flourish more. But people in the non-West in return for consumption would become more vocal and would like to dictate terms to the Western nations.

There will be a balance but that balance will be favorable to the West when it becomes more conservative itself and the rest of the world more liberal in relative sense. This does not seem to be the trend at least in the US, but even in that favorable case Russia would retain importance; bigger than what its economic and military clout would suggest. The non-Western people's 'cogent' power along with 'diffusiveness' in the West would keep the dominance of the Russian Federation intact. The fact is Mr. Putin understands the time very well.

Therefore, while the military preparedness is mandatory and should be improved upon yet the fact is that the Pentagon along with its allies in the NATO would avoid a direct military conflict with Russian armed forces until last moment. The hypothetical war, if it at all takes place and remains contained, would make Russia weaker but it would also make Western nations less secured. The non-West would Balkanize and there will be instability spillover all over the world. The global treaties, including the United Nations, would suffer and the world would regress into unwanted direction. I do not think that Washington, DC, at least this administration, would risk that much for the sake of maintaining the sovereignty of Ukraine.

Now as far as replacing Russian neighbors and the EU countries' dependence on Russian natural resources by alternatives and the North American resources is concerned all should know that oil and other natural resources are precious till last drop, no matter what their alternatives be. If Russia retains its natural resources till end then it will have say in the globe till that very last moment. There is no question of the Russian state discovering a viable, environmentally sustainable alternative to fossil fuels on its own. Therefore, instead of enhancing Russian energy security the US-led West should let its oil-wealth exhaust at the earliest possible time, many times because of military and space competitions too.

Never in life should the White House give Russia a threat of withdrawal of investment. If Americans are allowed to invest into Russia even after Russia becomes barbaric to many, the US should continue to invest and expand its economic activities in the Russian Federation and its allied region. The Russian Federation?s coerciveness can be contained by economic prosperity and not by economic gloom. But then the US investors and producers should make Russia more dependent on them.

Except for military and other strategic technologies' transfer, the maximum should be supplied. Now reset with Russia may not be possible but withdrawing from the region may turn out to be counter-productive for the US. It should calibrate its steps carefully. But yes, security of the EU and its march towards its Eastern borders is a must. The US should help it facilitate them.


Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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