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United States-Russia Strategic Bilateral Relations Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 11th, 2021

Introduction

One of the most notable aspects of the contemporary geopolitical situation in the world has to do with the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the US: something that might lead towards the outbreak of the nuclear WW3 and result in the destruction of human civilization as we know it. After all, throughout the last few years Russian President Vladimir Putin has been warning the US military strategists that, contrary to what most of them assume, the would-be military clash between Russia and the US will not be limited to the European theater only. Russia’s newly emerged military capacities (reflective of the country’s possession of new supersonic missiles and nuclear doomsday-torpedoes), substantiate the full validity of this warning (Reif, 2018). This raises much concern among citizens in the US and causes many of them to wonder whether there is any rationale in assuming that Russia is indeed America’s “natural enemy”. By researching the issue at length, the author will aim to contribute to answering this question. The hypothesis that is to be tested is as follows: Russia and the US are potentially capable of being strategic partners. The research-process will be concerned with reviewing the relevant literature and subjecting the would-be acquired insights to an interpretative inquiry.

Literature Review

To acquire a better understanding of the subject matter in question, it will be logical to outline what account for the main contemporary grievances against each other, on the part of both the US and Russia.

As far as America’s accusations of Russia are being concerned, they can be summarized as follows:

  • Russia has illegally annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, following of the outbreak of yet another “democratic revolution” in this country. According to the representatives of the US State Department, this development constituted a grave violation of international law. It is also referred to by the media as the proof that Vladimir Putin is generally “evil” and obsessed with the idea conquering the world (McDougal, 2015).
  • Russia has meddled in the 2016 Presidential elections in the US, which resulted in the election of Donald Trump as the President (Mason, 2018). This person has in turn been accused of being a Russian agent of influence: the claim that proved to be altogether false in light of the Mueller report’s findings.
  • Russia is backing separatists in the Eastern part of Ukraine while providing them with much needed logistic support. In fact, Russia has also been accused of sending its troops to the specified area to fight the Ukrainian army (Plokhy, 2018). No credible evidence in support of this claim has ever been presented.
  • Russia is supporting the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, which has in turn been accused of launching chemical attacks on its own citizens on numerous occasions (Joshi, 2016).

No proof that these attacks were organized by Assad has ever been presented as well.

Russia was behind the downing of the flight MH-17 in 2015, which resulted in the killing of 298 innocent civilians (Yurkova, 2018). At the same time, the US refuses to release any satellite photos in support of this claim while turning a blind eye on the fact that it was Ukraine that benefited from this tragic event the most and that this country has clearly failed at declaring “no fly” zone (for passenger planes) over the area with the full-scale armed conflict going on.

Russia has been actively opposing the US-backed “regime change” in Venezuela while going as far as sending its troops and military equipment to this country (O’Donnell, 2016). Those who come up with such an accusation fail to explain what gives America the right to be appointing Venezuelan presidents, in the first place.

Russia has its own list of grievances against the US, as the country with the clearly imperialist geopolitical agenda. The most noteworthy of them are as follows:

  • America organized and supported the illegal seizure of political power by the armed gangs of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine in 2014 while referring to it in terms of a “democratic revolution”: the development that resulted in triggering a civil war in this country that continues to last with no end in sight. The fact that this has indeed been the case is best proven with respect to the public statements, on the part of America’s top-ranking governmental officials under Obama’s administration (such as the former Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland), in which they openly admit of having staged the whole thing (Mearsheimer, 2014).
  • America proceeds with trying to move NATO’s military infrastructure ever closer to Russia’s borders, which poses a grave danger to the country’s national security. The validity of this claim is self-evident, given the expansionist policy that NATO has been pursuing since the early 1990s (Marten, 2018).
  • America continues to impose ever more economic sanctions against Russia, which in turn violates the basic operational principles of both the UN and WTO. If anything, however, these sanctions have helped Russia to revive the formerly stagnant sectors of its economy, such as the agricultural one.

America believes in being “superior” to the rest of the world’s nations (this has been claimed by both Obama and Trump on many occasions), which presumably justifies its intention to promote “democracy” across the planet, even if this contradicts the will of the people in the areas where “democracy” is to be imposed (Verney, 2018). The countries that urgently require American-led “democracy” are necessarily the resource-rich ones, such as Iraq, Libya and Venezuela. According to Russia’s governmental officials, by acting in such a manner, the US exposes itself as nothing short of the fascist state, obsessed with the idea of world domination.

By continuing to pursue with its “regime change” policy (as seen in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela) America actively contributes to the rapid deterioration of international law, as the main governing principle or international affairs. In this turn, this brings even more chaos and instability to the already destabilized world. The validity of this Russia’s claim is also rather self-evident.

Findings

For the US and Russia to be considered “strategic foes”, there must be a good reason to believe that the very existence of these countries poses much danger to the geopolitical well-being of each other, regardless of what happened to be the particulars of the political regime in each of them. When assessed in conjunction with the earlier outlined American accusations of Russia, there will appear to be very little rationale in assuming that Russia’s very existence is inconsistent with America’s national interests. The reason for this is apparent: even a brief glance at these accusations will reveal them to be emotionally charged to a considerable extent and lacking credibility, which in turn implies that they are nothing but a part of the American-led propaganda war against Russia. Nevertheless, the fact that the US is waging such a war on Russia does not necessarily mean that America is objectively interested in having Russia destroyed. Rather, the ongoing “New Cold War” between both countries is reflective of the agenda of the political establishment in the US, commonly known as the “deep state”. There is, however, no good reason to assume that the agenda of the American political/banking elite correlates well with the interests of ordinary citizens in the US. Quite to the contrary: one of the main reasons as to why Donald Trump was able to win in the 2016 Presidential elections is that he promised to his voters that he was going restore friendly relations with Russia (Rutland, 2017).

Essentially the same can be said about the discursive significance of Russia’s accusations of the US: neither of them is even closely suggestive of the fact that Russia regards America in terms of an existential threat. As one can infer from them, this country has two basic objections against America’s current stance on international affairs. First, Russia considers NATO’s expansion to represent an acute threat. Russia’s fear, in this regard, is explainable: if someone begins to approach another person with the gun in its hands, the latter rightly assumes that the armed man has hostile intentions, even if he claims to be a “friend” during the process.

Second, Russia strongly opposes America’s practice of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries under disguise of promoting “democracy” while considering it to be a gross violation of international law. Hence, Russia’s decision to protect 2.5 million Russian-speaking people in Crimea from being subjected to ethnic cleansing, the country’s swift success in destroying the ISIS terrorists in Syria, and its firm stance in providing economic and military support to the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

In other words, had the US ceased violating international law to install puppet-regimes in the neighboring countries with Russia (such as Ukraine), Russia would not have even a slightest reason to think of America in terms of an enemy. Russia’s newly developed weapons that render useless both the National Missile Defense (NMD) and the US aircraft carrier fleet, are there to counter the threats that America’s current foreign policy poses to Russia. If this policy changes, Russia will be willing to reconsider its current anti-American stance as well. Unlike the US, Russia never claimed to have had any plans for striking America preemptively. In its turn, this has to do with the main difference between the American and Russian conceptualizations of the term “superpower”.

As seen from the American perspective, “superpower” is the country that can boss around the international community while expecting nothing but unquestionable obedience from the rest of international actors. According to how Russia perceives the term, however, “superpower” is the country that can refuse taking orders from America, without having to face any consequences, whatsoever (Khudoley, 2016). It must be noted that the Russian outlook on the significance of the term “superpower” is much more viable, as compared to that of the US: while striving to “contain” Russia since 2014, America has been experiencing setback after setback. As a result, more and more countries in the world that have traditionally been allied with the US (especially those in the Persian Gulf), begin to wonder whether the time has come for them to consider switching allegiances. Russia is open to dialogue with the US, but it will not tolerate threats.

Conclusion

Because of what has been mentioned earlier, it will be appropriate to conclude this paper by suggesting that the very idea that the US and Russia and are strategic foes is harmful to America’s national interests. After all, the aggressive promotion of this idea, on the part of American policymakers through the last few years, did not result in anything but in undermining the country’s international reputation even further. The irony here is that those who claim “Russia is the enemy” the loudest, contribute the most to America’s geopolitical weakening. It is still a long way to go before Russia and America begin to regard each other as strategic partners, but there is very little doubt that the actualization of such a scenario would prove highly beneficial to the interests of ordinary citizens in both countries. Russia and the US have long ago proven that they do have what it takes to act as allies: their common victory over the Nazis in the WW2 illustrates the full validity of this suggestion. Even during the last few years, when the relationship between both countries had hit a new low, Vladimir Putin has been expressing his hope that American politicians will eventually realize that it is indeed so much better for the US to treat Russia as a friend, as opposed to regarding it in terms of an enemy. The sooner they come to realize this, the better.

References

Joshi, S. (2016). Red star over Syria. Vayu Aerospace and Defense Review, (3), 95-103.

Khudoley, K. (2016). Russia’s foreign policy amid current international tensions. Teorija in Praksa, 53(2), 388-408.

Marten, K. (2018). Reconsidering NATO expansion: A counterfactual analysis of Russia and the west in the 1990s. European Journal of International Security, 3(2), 135-161.

Mason, S. (2018). Russian cyber aggression and the new cold war. Journal of Strategic Security, 11(1), 1-18.

McDougal, T. (2015). A new imperialism? Evaluating Russia’s acquisition of Crimea in the context of national and international law. Brigham Young University Law Review, 2015(6), 1847-1887.

Mearsheimer, J. (2014). Why the Ukraine crisis is the West’s fault: The Liberal delusions that provoked Putin. Foreign Affairs, 93(5), 77-89.

O’Donnell, T. (2016). Petro-comrades. Americas Quarterly, 10(1), 94-99.

Plokhy, S. (2018). The return of the empire: The Ukraine crisis in the historical perspective. South Central Review, 35(1), 111-126.

Reif, K. (2018). New Russian weapons raise arms race fears. Arms Control Today, 48(3), 21-23.

Rutland, P. (2017). Trump, Putin, and the future of US-Russian relations. Slavic Review, 76(12), S41-S56.

Verney, M. (2018). Reviews: American empire: A global history. Journal of Global History, 13(3), 491-494.

Yurkova, O. (2018). Ukraine: At the forefront of Russian propaganda aggression. The SAIS Review of International Affairs, 38(2), 111-124.

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1. IvyPanda. "United States-Russia Strategic Bilateral Relations." July 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/united-states-russia-strategic-bilateral-relations/.


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IvyPanda. "United States-Russia Strategic Bilateral Relations." July 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/united-states-russia-strategic-bilateral-relations/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "United States-Russia Strategic Bilateral Relations." July 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/united-states-russia-strategic-bilateral-relations/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'United States-Russia Strategic Bilateral Relations'. 11 July.

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