The New Cold War
Alexander Vershbow, U.S. ambassador in Moscow, once said that the main problem in U.S-Russia relationship was their ”value gap” which means that the two countries were effectively cooperating on practical issues but there was a widening disagreement on issues relating the rule of law and the strengthening of democratic institutions.
It is because of this that the relationships between Moscow and Washington is worsening on a daily basis – jeopardizing security agreements and stability of the international order.
The heated rhetoric on both sides makes one think of its similarities during the Cold war time, indicating that they are viewing each other through the prism of cold war.
In the recent times, Russia seems to have regained an assertiveness, both internally and internationally, and with its policy-makers in Moscow using this newly salvaged power to assert more Russian led policies on the international front which, in turn, is becoming the major reason for the mutual disillusionment with the U.S and the increasingly eroding relations between the two great powers.
According to Dimitri K. Simes, U. S’s mishandling of Russia is a “conventional wisdom” in Washington, based on the idea that Reagan won the war on its own.
This he explains in his article ‘Losing Russia – The Costs of Renewed Confrontation’ in Foreign Affairs is a very incorrect conception and most certainly is not viewed by most Russian in such a way. This misleading historical narrative of “self-congratulatory” lies at the core of the U. S’s failures in the way relations are handled with Russia, in the post-cold war times.
While in the post-Cold war era, the U.S. thought to have defeated the Soviet Union, however, many Soviet leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President and many of the advisers believed on the contrary.
They believed the dismantling of the Soviet Union was in turn a win for Russia too.
Thus, with these two very different narratives and believes, the two great powers have always kept the cold war spirit alive. Now, with the gain of more power and assertiveness for Russia on the international arena, this spirit is becoming more and more practically projected in their dealings.
In the last decade and so, the relationship between the two great powers have gone through its worst and both states have totally different calculation of what went wrong.
With one side blaming the other with the annexation of Crimea and the covert war in Eastern Ukraine, along with the Kremlin’s suppressing of its Civil Society, nuclear weapons brandishing, military provocations towards U. S’s allies in Europe mostly. Highlight of this whole debacle had been Russian military intervention in Syria aimed at strengthening the rule and leadership of Bashar al-Assad.
However, the Russian side views these things in a very differently light. In Ukraine they think of their intervention as a resistance against the Western expansion into Russian domain venturing deeper into the Russian sphere of influence.
In Syria, Russia argues to be siding with a legitimate government against rebels and the U.S and allies to be working to overthrow that legitimate government.
For a while now relations between the two powers are deteriorating and increasingly disrupting and reshaping the international order.