Light at the End of the Conflict?

Are Russia and the West fighting as usual, or is the relationship warming up?

Looking at recent history makes it clear. Relations with the West have grown more stable compared to two years ago. In the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015, we were on the brink of armed conflict with NATO. Any engagement could have gone nuclear in the blink of an eye. That’s no longer the case, thank God.

Furthermore, we and the Americans are coordinating our military actions in Syria. Russia has even proposed going further and carrying out joint operations. A year or two ago, that would have been completely unthinkable! True, the U.S. is dragging its feet on this, as they can’t come to terms with what happened in Crimea and the Donbass. Nevertheless, some coordination means we’ve turned a page in our relationship.

It can’t be said that the conflict is completely over, or that we’re returning to full cooperation. The political conditions for that aren’t right in Russia or the West. The current Russian ruling elite sees it this way: “When we ‘became friends’ with the U.S. in the ’90s it led to complete anarchy. It was a nightmare. Russia was on its knees and submitted to the West on everything…” Many recall the Cold War with nostalgia, despite the fact that we were often on the brink of nuclear disaster.

Now some see the confrontation with the U.S. as a way to return Russia’s global status, as well as a way of putting pressure on liberals inside the country. Others say, “We aren’t very good at developing peacefully, but we know how to build tanks and rockets, and to fight. So let’s play the trump cards we’ve got.” The U.S. and Europe, on the other hand, think that Russia is “on the warpath,” expanding its military might and enlarging its territory. They demand a return to a policy of “containment.” Of course, they don’t like to remember how they themselves trampled on international law in Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya. They also don’t care to recall how they moved NATO’s borders up to Russia, and made the Baltic states and Poland hostages in a new military confrontation.

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