The angry Russian reaction, and warnings regarding what some American media outlets — close as ever to decision-making circles — leaked concerning Washington’s intention to deploy ballistic missiles to Europe, reveal that the world is approaching a phase of tension. How far this will reach is difficult to predict, especially in light of existing pools of tension and regional and civil wars, in which Washington, specifically, is entangled. Moscow is also not far from such predicaments, even if Moscow intends to worry, annoy and confuse the Americans, making them pay the price for having policies that are hostile toward it, particularly after the Ukrainian crisis and after the United States led the Western camp in imposing difficult economic sanctions on Russia. These have contributed to creating serious difficulties for the Russian economy, as well as tightening the band of diplomatic and political isolation around it.
Russia’s having been expelled from the Group of Eight was only one confirmation of this isolation. Indeed, it could be noticed that the group’s annual summit, which has returned to its old name, the Group of Seven, was used as an American platform, and even somewhat a Western one, albeit in a manner less aggressive and scheming than that of the Americans. They used it for slandering and threatening Russia and calling for the tightening of sanctions against the country in a way that smacked of hatred and enmity toward Russia, particularly in Obama’s statements in the G-7 summit that just ended in the Bavarian German Alps. It was emphasized, in Obama’s description of Russian policy toward the Ukrainian crisis, that it was “aggressive,” necessitating the imposition of further sanctions.
There were those who hit harder, like Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper — who, it should be mentioned, follows Washington and Tel Aviv obediently. Harper stated that his country would be completely opposed to Putin’s re-accession to the G-7 as long as Putin is in power. He went on to say that Russia had lost its basis for membership in the G-7 long before the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis.
Because Russia may no longer possess the same enthusiasm it had when it joined the group, which became known as the G-8, after three years of economic sanctions and directing itself toward alternative regional and international gatherings — even those of rivals such as BRICS and the SCO,* both of which Russia is preparing to host next month — the emergency crisis looming on the horizon takes on a more serious nature than what has occurred up to this point concerning the implications and costs of the Ukrainian crisis. The conversation around threats to redeploy ballistic missiles in Europe has stirred up not only anger but rage in Moscow, whose officials responded with unprecedented hardness and warning. There has even been criticism of Washington’s methods of “hyping” what the American administration described as “Russian violations.” Such methods aim, based on what was said by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, to obtain justification for taking the military steps desired to strengthen America’s leadership in confronting what it calls the Russian military threat. In a stern warning issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense, Antonov said, “We believe that the return of U.S. short and medium range missiles to Europe and their employment in other regions from where they could pose a threat to Russia and other nations not following Washington’s orders would have a sharply negative impact on global security and stability.”
The discussion, then, revolves around the extent to which the two parties, Russia and America, are in compliance with the provisions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, which required the destruction of medium and short range missiles and ordered that verification actually be completed four years from that date (1991). However, the lack of confidence and mutual uncertainty between the two contributed to the deepening of the rift and the trading of accusations in such a way that Washington said Moscow had conducted new tests on these types of ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, Moscow recently replied that the Americans were involved in these types of programs, particularly those of new generations like the Missile Defense Shield, for which some components have been erected in Eastern Europe while other parts have been set up in Turkey; not to mention the carrying by drones of weapons and missiles similar to those contained in the 1987 treaty.
So, are we facing another Cold War, coupled with a new arms race?
It is naive to think in the first place that the “cold” had been buried in a final way. Proof that the Cold War hasn’t really ended can be seen in the U.S. militarization of international affairs and the aggressive tendency to interfere in the affairs of others and bring down regimes opposed to American policies; what the neo-conservatives brought about in the structure and principles of the international system over the past two decades following the fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of Boris Yeltsin, who was notorious on the Russian scene for being uncontrolled politically, economically and security-wise; America’s wild and savage assault in order to NATO-ize Eastern Europe; and the siege and curtailment of Russia in an attempt to turn it into just an ordinary state.
As for the arms race, it has been there all along, as evidenced by the huge arms’ sales being carried out by the United States as well as Russia (in second place). As for the story about enhancing and modernizing military capabilities in terms of quantity and quality, well, it goes on openly and publicly in arms fairs and military industry exhibitions, but without ideological motives — which makes capitalist forces confused and curbs their aggression to some extent —and stems from nationalist and sovereign tendencies related to national pride, as well as a rejection of uncontrolled imperialist aggression, expansion, hostility and arrogance on multiple levels.
*Editor’s Note: BRICS is the acronym for the five emerging national economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. SCO is the acronym for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.