After several recent occasions where Russian President Vladimir Putin made threatening references to Russia’s nuclear arsenal of 5,000 warheads, he is once again intensifying his efforts to characterize Russia as a victim of a Western conspiracy. Although the US has pursued policies that have caused destabilization in regions of the world, it was also the United States and the rest West that initiated the vision of an International Community where all nations have a voice and diplomacy always trumps war.
Russia, on the other hand, has too often played the antagonist willing to cooperate with the world in order to prevent nuclear war and to ensure Russian interests could be addressed even in a world increasingly dominated by US influence. With the Ukraine Crisis in mind, it appears the mentality of Russian leadership has not changed. What makes Putin so much more dangerous than his predecessors, who were constantly at odds with American leadership during the Cold War, is that he and his narrowing inner-circle appear to have no respect for the devastating power of nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, the provocative hardliners who have seized control of the Kremlin act less like the rulers of a world power and more like the leadership of an insecure rogue state, such as North Korea. North Korea is overly aggressive and provocative toward its neighbors, because the government is terrified of the International Community overthrowing the regime. In order to secure the support of its people, it has fostered a culture of paranoia and contorted visions of the world.
More importantly, North Korea uses its military might to intimidate its neighbors and the rest of the International Community, which has too often pursued peace and stability to a fault. North Korea also relies on its nuclear arsenal to compensate for the inability of its traditional armed forces to match the power of the United States, South Korea, and the rest of the International Community, including China. Given Russia’s strategic and clandestine use of traditional forces in Ukraine Crisis as well as its threats of nuclear war, it almost appears as though the Kremlin is taking its cues from Pyongyang.
From the limited analogy that can be drawn between Russia and North Korea, it is terribly clear the former Soviet government is growing increasingly unstable. Whether the Kremlin’s goal is world domination or a limited strategy to hedge against increasing Western influence, Putin’s government is seeking appeasement when it tests its boundaries. If Russia makes a demand and gets its way, it will quiet down. When it does not, it will do whatever it takes to force concessions before settling down. Just like North Korea, the International Community will find itself locked into an ever-intensifying cycle of turmoil, until it breaks Russia of this behavior.
Truthfully, if not for the fact Russia stole a piece of Ukraine, i.e. Crimea, and the reality that Russia military forces were discovered fighting with pro-Russian rebels within Ukraine on numerous occasions, Putin’s argument against the United States and the West would be thoroughly believable. Then again, there is also other to be considered. For example, the Obama Administration and Western government were highly reluctant to address the Ukraine Crisis while the world already looked past Russia 2008 invasion of Georgia.
Where there are assuredly elements within the West that have always seen Russia as a threat and have assuredly acted against Russia the United States and the rest of the West are not actually against Russia. We want them to be a stable part of our modern world. What drives the United States to pursue military and economy supremacy is not the need to subjugate and pillage; it is the need to safeguard our way of life by fostering global stability and peace by taking action when we feel it necessary to do so.
Where the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars created instability in the Middle East and serves as examples of how flawed the United State can be, these invasions were not conducted to steal the resources or territories of these nations or destroy harm the Peoples of these lands. At best, the United States would have opened these countries to export, so we could purchase some of their goods at market prices. In the case of Russia, Crimea was seized for its resources.
With that in mind, it is still difficult for those disillusioned by the United States and the rest of the West to differentiate when Russia is raising valid criticism or blinded by deluded paranoia. When it comes to Putin’s War on McDonalds, which is likely a tactic to eliminate Western symbols /conveniences of the modern world, and highly pessimistic view that America likes seeing the Russian economy hurt by falling oil prices, it become easier to see the Russian leadership has grown far less relational.
The American People like to see lower gas prices, because every dollar we spend on gas takes away from the things we want to buy and the place we want to go. The US did not invest in natural gas, increased oil production, green energy, and improved efficiency to hurt the Peoples of oil dependent economies. Because oil is priced globally, we want to see all countries using less oil and producing more varieties of energy. More importantly, it is Russia that failed to diversify its economy by embracing innovation paid for by excess oil revenue.
Although the harm done to the Russian economy due to lower oil prices does help bolster the effects of US sanctions, the United States gains nothing from an economically and politically unstable Russia. The reason the US hesitated to support protesters during the Arab Spring Revolutions, for example, is that American interests would have been undermined by the fall of the relatively stable authoritarian regimes of the region.
Before the Ukraine Crisis, Russia was transforming itself into a Western nation. It was the fact Ukraine was also Westernization, which is in its interests to do, and growing more independent that caused Russia to go on the offensive.
Unfortunately, it seems Russian leadership is trying to change the outcome of the Cold War. While the West needs to continually leave itself open to talks with Russia, it is not yet time to rollback sanctions again Russia as the Ukraine Crisis is truly an ongoing Russian Crisis. Appeasing Russian leadership now will only result in greater strife later while the facts say it is more prudent to prepare for a potential war. Given Russia’s continuing violations of NATO airspace and waters, it is clear Russia will strike again even if it gets its way this time around.
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