The Soviet Union collapsed in December of 1991, prompting the New York Times to release an orbituary of sorts to the former super power saying that it is a “a nation straddling two continents and two cultures, forever torn and forever fired by the creative clash at the fault line of East and West.” After 25 years, with Russia’s invasion of Crimea, the fault line is again present between the East and the West.
The recent occupation has raised tensions throughout the world. This has caused a direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington, something that hasn’t happened since the Cold War. Russia has placed a lot of soldiers on the Ukraine border, some reports say 10,000, other says more. Some see that it’s just a power move by President Vladimir Putin and that it will go away within a matter of weeks, but some also believe that it’s going to be a prolonged standoff, a lengthy sign of resistance to the US and the EU.
This has also caused a lot of people to fear that another Cold War is emerging. Are the two world police going to direct their nukes to each other again? Experts say, not quite.
“What we’ve seen in recent weeks is that Russia is prepared to disregard the terms of the post-Cold War settlement, and unilaterally pursue its own interests regardless of the impact on relations with its immediate neighbors — seemingly in defiance of any reaction from the West,” says John Laugh, associate fellow at Chatham House, a London-based think-tank. “This is a whole new ballgame in the post-Cold War period.”
America and its allies have said that Russia’s annexation is illegal while Putin insists that they’re actions are democratic and fair. The US doesn’t want to send any troops to Ukraine but they have chosen to put pressure by imposing economic sanctions. President Barrack Obama and President Putin have exchanged targeted economic sanctions. Recently, NASA suspended most of its operations with Russia’s space agency citing Russia’s “ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Western countries have said that they will reinforce the troops in Easter Europe following Russia’s invasion of Crimea, but NATO has drastically downsized its military presence in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the lack of military force and only economic sanctions to pressure Putin, many believe that it will only embolden the Russian President.
“Given the West’s unwillingness to resort to military force, all it can do is raise walls around Russia in the hope that international isolation will eventually bring about a change of regime,” says Sergey Radchenko, a Cold War expert at Aberystwyth University in the UK. “I think it’s a self-defeating strategy, because it leaves Russia embittered and feeds into domestic nationalism.”
When talking about a revival of the Cold War, another expert says that it’s not going to happen.
“There’s no real ideological conflict, like there was in the Cold War,” says Dmitry Gorenburg, Russia expert at CNA, a US think tank. “That was really two camps trying to get allies for each side… The main ideology these days seems to be Russian nationalism, which doesn’t seem to go that far with others.”