The U.S. government has taken sweeping retaliatory measures against Russia for alleged hacking and interference in the U.S. presidential election. Such measures include the removal of 35 diplomats from the Russian Embassy and Russian Consulate, the closure of two Russian facilities and five institutions including the Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU, as well as economic sanctions against six of the GRU’s top officials. “These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities,” Obama said, making it clear that additional measures will be taken. Russia has vowed to retaliate, as “the principle of reciprocity applies here.”
It is unclear whether the U.S.’s hard line toward Russia will continue next year with the Russia-friendly Donald Trump administration. Trump reacted negatively to these measures in his recent statement that “it’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.” But with both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress calling the actions “overdue” and requiring stronger sanctions, these measures seem difficult to overturn. The relationship between the U.S. and Russia, which are already at odds over Syria and Ukraine, will plummet further with these measures.
The deterioration of the U.S.-Russia relationship could further destabilize international affairs next year. As it is, there is another variable to consider: the U.S.-China conflict. In order to check China’s growing influence, the U.S. has opposed the granting of the World Trade Organization “market economy” status to China and strengthened censorship in the South China Sea. Adding insult to injury, the Trump administration threatened China with trade sanctions, accusing them of currency manipulation and countervailing duties. The onset of a U.S.-Russia conflict, on top of a U.S.-China conflict, is raising concern about the start of a new Cold War.
Already faced with the North Korean nuclear issue, we are not taking this well. Instead of strengthening cooperation, the world is falling apart – giving us more to worry about. Global instability may give rise to chronic geopolitical risks, which will be devastating especially for South Korea, already suffering from political confusion and economic recession. Our economic, diplomatic, and security authorities need to be well prepared to reduce the impact this may have on our nation. There is no time for self-pity by calling our cabinet a “half-year ministry.”