Factors behind an “all-time low” US-Russia relation
Source : NewsBharatiDate : 24-Sep-2017
By Gargi Sarkar
Even who is least aware of International relation knows there is something between US and Russia. It is like that liaison which will definitely attract many eyes. Never less fascinating than a TV series, US-Russia relation is fascinating for readers since date. The relation is not a mere tale of half a century as we know but dates back to more than hundred years ago. After the years of the arms race, the war of domination since 1991 the bilateral relation totally changed with the dramatic decline of Soviet Union. An ideological tussle running between two countries almost disappeared and the relation stabilized. But since 2014 most interesting international relation has fallen sharply and at the middle of 2017 which has been considered as an “all-time low” Russia-Us relation. Now we will move to the main factors catalyzing the fall:
Civil War in Syria: The US has always been critical of Russia’s “overactivity” in Syria. But the question comes why Russia go so deeply involved in the Syrian civil war. Once a world power Russia was going through a bad economic phase with oil prices declining. To regain the international power Russia deployed Russian aircraft in Syria September 2015. On the other hand, US already got involved in the civil war in 2014. That’s the beginning of the Russia-US conflict in Syria. The oppositional upsurge against President Bashar al-Assad gradually dragged world powers like US, Russia. Russia emphasized to target “terrorist” groups but it is often alleged it targets Western-backed rebel groups. But the US believes Syrian President’s lack of administrative power and honest will is the reason of prevalent violence over there. The US says it provides military assistance to rebel groups in a “moderate” amount.
Hence when Russia supports Syrian President and the US supports rebel groups conflict is unavoidable. In addition to that, reflecting Cold War trait of one making international alley against another the two nations supported and received support from several other nations like Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia. Both the countries carried out many airstrikes in the support of their ally.
The failed attempts to talk over ceasefire has triggered the conflict more. For both the nations it has become a matter of power game. In case of 2017, the relation worsened more. In the first part of April, some 59 US cruise missiles were fired at Syrian Air Force which was a stronghold of the Syrian military.US President Donald Trump held it as a response to a chemical attack in an opposition-dominated town which killed more than 80 people. Though Syrian President denied such claim was widely criticized and later Russia was alleged for its involvement in the incident. Such action-counter action series has only degraded the relation.
The involvement of Turkey, Ira, Israel and the countries’ relations with Russia, US has made the situation more complex. The political dialogue was emphasized as the ultimate solution to this six yearlong problem but Syria’s conflicting parties never did properly co-operate with international community leading to a bitter US-Russia relation. Hopefully, there are media sources telling that Russia Us having a secret deal which may work well for both the countries and Syria.
Ukraine Crisis and Russia- US power play : Russia’s problem of this decade with the US and the west was triggered by its Crimea annexation. Ukraine which was a part of former the Soviet Union has been in bad conflict with Russia since the country took over Crimea in 2014. The crisis in Europe was gravest since cold war through any bloodshed did not really happen as Putin played a very strong brain game. In a very obvious manner, the West and US did not take it very good leading to a response from NATO by suspending all its co-operation with Russia. The seed of another power play between Russia and US was planted in Russia’s Crimea annexation though at the beginning of the conflict US was really not sure about its direct involvement in the conflict. The US termed it as an act of aggression.
Then President of US Barrack Obama though termed Russia as “regional power” but US Congress was totally aware of its aftermath. In a period of two years, Russia was imposed with six rounds of sanctions from the US targeting Russia’s financial activity. It was assumed then only the two countries are on the way of a strained relation. The next year 2015 only saw a huge decline in two countries trade numbering 27.9%. Ukraine war which killed more than 10000 civilians in this 3 years has been regarded by the US as Russia’s fault.
Washington itself once cited Ukraine problem as the main obstacle to a good relationship with Russia. The US was directly involved to overthrow former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader and moreover, it is very significant under Yanukovich's regime Russia overpowered Crimea. At a time it was questionable if the US would send direct aid to Ukraine Military has now gone far beyond.
Very recently US Senate passed an act U.S. Senate passed an act authorizing the provision to Ukraine of $500 million worth of military aid, including lethal defensive weapons. Responding to that Kremlin said any possibility of supplying lethal weapon could not stabilize the situation. Hence a series of incidents escalating tension in the bilateral relation of US Russia is going on since 2014.
Russia’s alleged meddling in US election 2016: Following Syria, Ukraine conflict the bilateral relationship which already declined only got catalyzed after 2016 election. The grand 2016 Presidential election of US was one of the most phenomenal of its kind in this decade. The historic win of Donald Trump got strained with the allegations of Russian meddling. The hackers from Russia has already done so many things that without any solid prove almost all Americans took it as a true one. Americans who already have a strong anti-Russian sentiment became furious against Russian President Vladimir Putin including a large group from White House.
Hilary Clinton who was opposing Trump faced a bad situation prior to the election as her e-mails got leaked. The e-mail leak incident is believed to be one of the factors behind Clinton’s loss. Intelligence agencies of US predicted Russian influence here. Along with that, there were many trolls, social media campaigns, posts during the period. Intelligence agencies like CIA, FBI is already investigating the allegations and in the earlier part of this year made sure Russia was behind this. Some state-run media of Russia are also alleged for that.
Russia obviously denied the charge. But US said that if it’s proved true Russia has to suffer for interfering in an internal matter of US. If it’s true or not it already paved the way for hateful exchanges between two country and an “anti-Russia hysteria” among Americans. In a larger scenario, the new game of exchanging sanctions also has a route in this allegation.
Exchange of sanctions: The effects of conflict regarding Syria, Ukraine, election resulted in a new diplomatic exchange. A game of sanction war started from the middle of 2017. The US came up with a sanction against Russia. The legislation also includes sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The sanction mainly targets Russia’s “overactivity” in Syria and Ukraine. Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project has been viewed as a threat to the energy security of Ukraine. Initially, a statement on the bill said, “both parties in the House and Senate have reached agreement on sanctions legislation that will hold Russia and Iran accountable for their destabilizing actions around the world”. In response to the sanction, Russia came up with a sanction against US diplomatic staffs working in Russia. As a mirror action. Both the countries exchanged sanctions leading to an order from the US for the closure of a two very important Russian consulate in the US.
The US came up with the same kind of action. Later, Alexis Rodzianko, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Russian Federation has said it is not possible to expel Russia from the energy market of Europe is impossible. At the same time, Russia is ready for the US to pull out from the treaty on the elimination of small and medium-range missiles. Russia continuously insisted that the sanctions are futile and an obstacle to a stable US-Russia. It is partially true that sanctions can never lead to a better bilateral relationship. The countries started co-operating after a long era of the cold war but external factors, international affairs, the will of both countries to play the role of dominating world power again felt into the trap of confrontation since last 3 years which gained stronger momentum in 2017.