Russia Asserts Strategic Resurgence

Russia asserted her strategic resurgence to the United States with two audacious moves with its recent military intervention in Georgia and the recognition of independence from Georgia of the breakaway regions of Abhkazia and South Osettia. It was a strategic riposte to the United States and NATO countries according recognition to the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo and the United States unwilling to heed the warnings by Russia not to proceed with her deployments of the Ballistic Missile Shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. This strategic assertion may turn out to be a defining moment in the future course of US-Russia relations and the overall global balance of power.

Russia's strategic resurgence has been underway for a number of years now and stood continuously reflected in the writings of this Columnist elsewhere. There was no 'if' on the question of Russia's strategic resurgence. The question was 'when' it would take place. More noticeably, this began in 2004 with rising oil prices bringing in billions of dollars to Russia in oil revenues and bankrolling the modernization of her strategic assets and conventional military power which had become jaded in the aftermath of the Cold War end and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This was also the time when the United States got strategically bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq and thereby limiting her strategic options elsewhere.

Russia's strategic resurgence was further fuelled by Russian nationalism smarting under the humiliation of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the condescending attitudes towards Russia thereafter by the United States and the West. This pent up nationalism found the medium of expression in the personality of then President Putin who unlike his two predecessors was dynamic and focused on restoring Russia to its earlier strategic glory and pre-eminence in global affairs.

Russia's military intervention in Georgia and the recognition of independence of its two breakaway regions has to be viewed at two levels. It is a signal to the United States that Russia would not countenance the United States intruding on its strategic turf on the immediate periphery of Russia. This relates to United States plans to include Georgia and Ukraine in NATO but dropped at the last moment on opposition from Germany.

At the global level Russia has signaled that it feels confident now to strategically challenge the United States on any moves to discomfit Russia strategically or not to respect Russia's strategic sensitivities. It is a signal that the United States and NATO should not take Russia for granted.

The United States should have foreseen Russia's strategic resurgence with all the extensive intelligence resources at its command, and also as to what would be the manifestations. It seems as one Russian presidential adviser puts it that the United States kept sleeping through Russia's strategic resurgence underway for some years now. Probably, the United States had the inputs but went wrong on the reading of Russia's strategic intentions. It continued to be weighed down under earlier assessments that Russia would still not be bold enough to challenge the United States strategically.

Former President Putin had in February 2007 given enough indications of Russia's strategic intentions in his address at the Munich Security Conference. He had asserted that Russia was intent on re-emerging as an independent power centre in global affairs and was no longer willing to accept the unilateralism of the United States in the world. That assertion stands further reinforced in a new foreign policy document released by the new Russian President.

Russia's recent military intervention in Georgia and related actions, therefore, need to be viewed in light of the above assertions and should not be dismissed as some knee-jerk reaction.

Russia has strategically arrived on the global power stage and intends to play a significant role in global strategic affairs. While the United States may be reassessing its responses, the challenges are more for countries like India who would have to recalibrate afresh their foreign policy formulations .


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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