Chanakya IAS Academy Blog


Possibility of return of the Cold War?

What can be a major change in the international relations in the post-Soviet era is a possible derailment of Russia – US relations to a grimly low level that may have a potential of threatening global peace.

As a major turntable fact of 2017, Directorate of National Intelligence of USA has found evidence linking Russia to US presidential polls held last year which brought Mr. Donald Trump to the post of “President-elect”. It has been alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an “influence campaign” in order to bring Ms. Clinton’s candidacy down.

And the worst part may be that it was played as a “comeback” on the part of Mr. Putin converting US presidential elections into a “personal” combat zone. This, if true, becomes not only unethical but also a grave interference into the internal matters of the world’s first democracy.

The Hindu brings various motivations that possibly led to Mr. Putin crossing the “red line” such as action against Russian Athletes accused of doping; 2012 protests in Russia which were blamed on Clinton; as well as a win of Trump as a win for populism; while simultaneously showing that US’ democracy is flawed from within. This is especially hurtful for the USA as it has championed the cause of democracy ever since the former US president Woodrow Wilson gave a 14-point charter in 1918 during World War 1, to its military campaigns in West Asian countries like Iraq and Syria.

This incident may become a final nail in the coffin as there have been a series of issues where both the countries find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum such as:

  1. Georgia war when Russia intervened and supported the separatists in South Ossetia against the Georgian government when Georgia and Ukraine were seriously thinking about becoming members of the NATO.
  2. In 2013, the whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia when he exposed NSA’s spying operations called as “Prism”. This operation had become a major global embarrassment to the Obama administration and had adversely affected its relations with Germany.
  3. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea located at a strategic location in the Black Sea, thus gaining its influence over Mediterranean Sea which is a NATO stronghold, and especially USA’s. Russia was suspended from the G-8 group and is facing economic sanctions since then. This however, has brought Russia closer to China, which is another threat to the US’ world dominance.
  4. Besides, in 2015, Russia took the side of President Bashar-al Assad regime against the US-backed rebel groups working to oust the President. This has become a sore point between the two countries especially since the rebels have been losing important territories to the government forces, the latest being the Eastern Aleppo.
  5. Even on the front of Taliban, Russia is now engaging with it directly along with its long term ally Iran, causing serious suspicion to the USA especially because Afghan invasion has been a major domestic embarrassment for the Obama Administration as it could not resolve the issue and restore peace as was promised to the people of Afghanistan and the world community at large.

Meanwhile, over the grim allegations of interfering within the US’ Presidential elections, the Obama Administration has taken a tough stance and has imposed sanctions on Russia, besides sacking 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation to the cyber attacks and alleged leak of information to organizations like WikiLeaks.

For any democracy, and not just the USA, Presidential elections are the foundation of ensuring public trust and faith on the government machinery. Any interference in it, therefore, is equivalent to a full-blown war with the intention of destabilizing the state’s fabric.

But does USA have any moral right on this front? It had a deeply pervasive spying operation “Prism” carried out till 2014, under the garb of “national security concerns”. It even had tapped and listened into the conversations of German Chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel, which is as serious as Russia’s alleged intervention in US elections.

Similarly, China has often been alleged of using a dedicated network of hackers to carry out cyber attacks in various countries taking hold of confidential data, pertaining to security, economic and military interests of the victim countries. Who is holding China accountable?

When UNSC permanent members like the USA, China and Russia resort to such methods, it poses a very serious situation to the rest of the world.

Can UN General Assembly hold these countries accountable, this is the question.

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