US and Russia: Is it time to hit the brakes?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vacuum that existed following the shrinkage of Russia’s updated foreign policy ambitions were taken advantage of by global players. They grabbed the former USSR’s spheres of influence and imposed their own rules with no obstacles to realizing their own ambitions.

By the time Russia recovered from the shock and started to rise from the ashes, reminding the world of its existence, the West had enjoyed a considerable period of Russian oblivion and was quiet vexed over the reappearance of Russia on the world stage.

Here started the shift in global geopolitics. Occupying the rather odd position of being a marginalized country with a nuclear arsenal for a period of time, Russia recently started to extend its influence and interests, quiet progressively transforming into a power to be reckoned with on the global stage.

The situation quickly descended into drama due to the shift in the system and the unpunished arbitrariness of the world powers and their rejection of Russia’s reemergence on the one hand and Russia’s clumsy outdated, muscle-flexing, methods of foreign policy conduct on the other.

The geopolitical shift is also aggravated by such significant factors as paranoia inherited from the Cold War, exaggeration and a lack of mutual understanding. This shift brings the international system, which seems incapable of compromise, to the edge of complete collapse and has sown the seeds of conflict.

This could be a good chance for Hillary Clinton, should she be elected as the next American president, to reboot the world

Maria Dubovikova

All of this is happening against the background of the rise of global threats and challenges which can hardly be tackled while the mightiest players are in deep confrontation, the roots of which are primarily the phobias and their consequences.

The threats are growing as they are tackled in a wrong or in insufficient way and not with proper instruments. ISIS, that was expected to be destroyed by the international US-led coalition’s air strikes, has appeared to spread all over the world, has entrenched itself on the ground. At the same time, there is no clear global understanding on how to tackle these threats and the powers do not demonstrate a needed desire to elaborate a general and universal approach to tackle the challenge. Furthermore, the international powers are worsening the ISIS crisis by failing to agree on the fate of Syria.

Russia wants to consolidate its grip on the Middle East, while the West wants to kick it out. But these problems over Syria are leaving space for ISIS and other kinds of radicals and extremists to grow. Such groups only benefit from existing discordances.

The other dangerous factor of the clash is the Ukrainian issue that is looking now even more absurd than ever with mottos such as “Ukraine above al” being thrown around, the unveiling of an awkward new symbol featuring an owl targeting Russia with a sword and countless allegations of corruption.

Ukrainian leaders enjoy safety by hiding behind the United States and incite it to put in place further sanctions and steps against Russia, all while enjoying impunity for the mess inside their own country.

The last period of NATO expansion, with its unequivocal advance toward Russia’s borders and movement of the US troops and missiles deployed in Europe, left Russia little choice but to counteract. This is exactly what has happened in Ukraine because a well prepared revolution that would led to the joining of NATO by Ukraine was unacceptable for the Kremlin. The only way Russia saw forward was to attack and respond. Firstly, by preventing the loss of the Crimea’s military naval base and ensuring that the US ships would stay away from the strategic peninsula and also by supporting insurgents in the pro-Russian regions of Ukraine.

The geopolitical clashes over Syria and Ukraine, fueled by the small parties interested friction, mistrust and hatred, inspired by the media war and blind aggressive propaganda from the both sides, bring us to the real possibility of a direct clash. This is extremely absurd at a time when Russia and the US need each other more than ever. Joining forces and strengthening alliances with other allies from all over the world would allow the two powers to lead the fight against a huge pack of global challenges we are all facing now, primarily terrorism.

This would happen if the countries start looking at the world as at a common home, not as a battlefield of interests and areas of influence. We are standing on the brink of a clash, one which affords terrorists many opportunities. The only thing that can save us is hitting the brakes and stopping the next arms race in its tracks. This could be a good chance for Hillary Clinton, should she be elected as the next American president, to reboot the world.

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Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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