Alwaght – The signs of growing chill in the US-Russia relations are on the rise, and the range of challenges troubling bilateral ties of the two powers is broadening day by day. The challenges play out in a range of conflict of views over the ways to deal with the deep-rooted West Asian crises, the American Strategic Air Defense project, and Washington’s putting of Moscow on the “red notice.”
The main area of the Moscow-Washington challenges is the American missile shield that is stretching from the US to the Eastern Europe, but this is not all of the cause fraying their ties. Different strategies of the US and Russia in addressing the crises that are sweeping through the West Asia region, especially the Syrian conflict, as well as Moscow’s exhibition of signs of restoration of its historical power in the global stage make them nearly come to blows. Stabilizing Russia and reviving its the economy, President Vladimir Putin has revived the country as a global power that firmly reacts to the bothersome Western policy.
Moscow now can face off Washington in more than one front and even take symmetrical actions if the need arises. It now has bargaining chips in various areas, in military power, cyberpower, veto right in the United Nations Security Council, energy sector, and an adequate number of anti-American allies that come against Washington’s regional and international policies. All these instruments are efficient and are put to work to serve Russian interests and even put strains on the US.
In cyberspace for example Russia has its own stage. Russian agents now wander the social networks hunting for the retired American military personnel to befriend them, a trick helps them obtain information crucial to the intelligence uses. Experts say that Russia now has many retired military servicemen of the American military operating as “fifth column.”
The veto right is another tool empowering Russia to maneuver in the face of the West. Since foundation of the UN in 1945 up to now, the veto right was used 261 times by the permanent members– US, Russia, China, France, and Britain–, with only the Soviet Union and then Russia using it 123 times as Moscow has always been antipathetic to the US-led West’s global policies. For instance, the last veto came to stop the American “unilateralism” in the Syrian war.
On the other hand, the Russian leader’s stressing on boosting his country’s military capabilities comes after the recent years’ political and military developments worldwide and is meant to check the unilateral actions of Washington and NATO in Eastern Europe. Russia aspires to transform its military status as it tries not to be subject to the Western military surprises in West Asia and even more importantly wants to flex muscles as a strong world power. In past few years, Russia underwent drastic changes militarily, modernizing its army and shoring up organizational military structure for even smoother dynamic and faster reactions. The military improvement started by putting premium on Strategic Nuclear Forces, beside the Aerospace Forces, and it is being pursued fast and serious.
Russia uses its gas and oil resources as arms in diplomacy for the final aim of regaining Moscow’s former status as world power among the numbered others. It is widely believed that the Russian energy richness contributes to the Kremlin agenda for negotiating and taking to its side some American allies, like Germany.
Now it is widely admitted that Russia has turned into an energy giant, as it is the biggest natural gas producer and exporter. Between 1998 and 2004, it provided nearly 48 percent of the global oil, and currently holds a share of 22 percent of the global gas markets. The country also supplies 25 percent out of 40 percent of gas imported to Europe. Therefore, oil diplomacy can be of avail to Moscow’s goal of winning other countries’ political company.
The ongoing Yemeni conflict urged the Russian entry into the crisis. Moscow apparently aims at getting a toehold in Yemen to use the big capacities like the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in a bid to take on the US in the region. Russia has pressed for cessation of fire and asked the warring sides to go to the negotiating table.
Egypt is another country providing Russia with platform for deeper foothold in the region. The US halting of aids to Egypt prompted Cairo’s leaning towards Moscow. Western criticism against Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who removed the first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and a proponent of overthrowing the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, provided Russia with exceptional scope of closeness to Egypt. The marriage of Egyptian-Russian interests builds while the US is still hesitant about support for the Egyptian leader.
The new policy of Eurasianism that builds its basis on Putin’s doctrine resulted in different outcomes including challenging unipolar global system and American superiority, and gave Russia new face of strong international actor. The Russian policy also made it clear that the American power is not eternal and can be subjected to challenge. Now there is a notion that Russia has restored its place of key challenger of American hegemony and an actor that can well question the US-desired order in the world’s crisis-hit regions.