Russia vs. the United States: A simmering feud hurting us all

No one should be surprised by the tensions between Russia and the United States

Maria Dubovikova
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No one should be surprised by the tensions between Russia and the United States. In fact the contrary - a friendship and unclouded relations between the two giants - would be the true surprise. This everlasting quarrel has already become a backbone element of the international system that determines its logic, its geopolitical games and its zones of influence. It determines the complexity of geopolitical spaces, the logic of international ties, the system advantages of an ally or a partner status, of efficient cooperation that in critical moments of escalations becomes lever of influence. The system engendered and determined by this clash is ill minded and irrelevant, causing more bad than good, destroying more than creating.

The ongoing escalation is predictable following the Russia’s rise from the ashes of the U.S.SR and the will to determine its internal and foreign policy and future itself. The complete collapse of the “reset” is evident as it has appeared that the U.S. has no political will to share its global power with anyone. This includes China, Russia and even France, all dreaming of restoring international influence, or even the other former “Great Powers” who are losing their shine.


The mortal remains of trust in international relations are completely buried under the weight of geopolitical games

Maria Doubovikova

At the same time, after Dmitriy Medvedev left the presidential cabinet to return back to his prime ministerial chair, the tonality and signals have changed. However, the hope of resetting the international system had begun to fade before he stepped down. Russia has taken a course toward maximum independence, demanding fair play and not tolerating any maneuver that infringes upon its interests or rights as an equal partner.

In turn, the U.S., defending its self-proclaimed status of the hegemon, has to show the perked up counterpart its place. It must do this so it can bar any other country from being equal to it (not in terms of wealth and economy, but in terms of rights and capabilities). The Ukrainian crisis became a pretext to trigger the situation that finally turned to be just an act in a long play.

Mutually harmful

The allies turned out to be the instruments being used against Russia in the sanctions game, however mutually harmful for both Europe and Russia. Russia’s fears over the NATO threat to its security were justified and made it push its huge defense machine to increase its capabilities. The hysterics and phobias over Russia’s invasion and bad intentions were nicely fed and speculated upon. The Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel said that the U.S. must deal with revisionist Russia – with its modern and capable army – on NATO’s doorstep. These words were immediately considered by Russia as a direct, formulated threat to its state security. Russia’s minister of defense has replied saying that “Chuck Hagel’s thesis on the necessity for the American army to ‘deal’ with ‘modern and capable’ Russian armed forces on NATO’s doorstep is of grave concern,” according to Interfax. “This testifies to the fact that the Pentagon is working on scenarios for operations on the borders of Russia,” he added. The following U.S. objections that there was no threat for Russia in Hagel’s words, were not convincing for the Russia’s side. Here the speech of Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, during General Assembly speech can come to one’s mind, one of the main facets of which is a sarcastic apology – “pardon us for our country’s existence in the middle of you military bases.” It is a big question, who is rattling the sabre on whose doorstep. However, it should be admitted that the Russia doesn’t stay completely silent to the attacks of its partners. So the Russian President Putin has reminded observers in his recent interview with Serbia’s Politika newspaper “of the risks involved in disputes between nuclear powers.” It seems he was making hints about the dangers of tensions between the nuclear powers and reminding us of the danger of a further rise in the stakes. But hardly anyone in Washington perceived this signal in this way - it is more likely that they thought “how dare he threaten us with nuclear armaments.”

The remains of illusions over the possible friendship and trustful relations between the U.S. and Russia are fading, following the dethronement of myths about a multipolar word, of the peaceable disposition of NATO and of the U.S. itself. However, Russia had little illusions on the latter and that was once perceived as a post Cold War paranoia.

Russia is not an angel, especially taking into account that the current state of international affairs is descending into hell. However, the U.S. led the game and played with the destinies of peoples and whole countries. It has garnered nothing pleasant and nothing positive at all, neither for the countries blindly following it nor for the international system.

Despite attempts to find a political and peaceful resolution to the bloody civil war in Ukraine, the still rising escalation does not have an end on the horizon. There is little hope for better relations between the giants, especially taking into account the U.S. electorate cycles that always determine its foreign policy and the inflexibility of the Russian side seeking a multipolar world. What is more, the mortal remains of trust in international relations are completely buried under the weight of geopolitical games.


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

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