RUSSIAN-U.S. RELATIONS: THE BOUNDS OF THE POSSIBLE

Author: Igor Ivanov

(By Igor Ivanov. Nezavisimaya gazeta, March 14, 2016, p. 9. Complete text:) For all the different assessments of current relations between Moscow and Washington, hardly anyone would dare deny that today they are going through one of the deepest crises in modern history. Of course, Russia and the US did not always interact smoothly before this. Nevertheless, the current crisis is of a more fundamental and comprehensive nature than the periodic fallings-out that we have seen plenty of in recent decades. To all appearances, it will also be the longest: There are no obvious ways out of the present situation in the foreseeable future.

Of late, it has become trendy to talk about the beginning of a new cold war in world politics, and to draw parallels between the current Moscow-Washington standoff and the Soviet-American confrontation in the second half of the past century. Such parallels seem a big stretch: During the cold war, relations between the Kremlin and the White House were the prime axis of global politics; but in the 21st century, they are an important but far from defining element of the global international system. The world is no longer bipolar, and it is impossible to go back to the rigid bipolarity of the cold war era.

In addition, today's Russian-American confrontation lacks the ideological foundation that predetermined the all-encompassing nature of the cold war standoff (Soviet communism vs. Western democracy). Even if there is an antagonistic conflict of civilizations in today's world, it is definitely not between the US and Russia, but rather between Western liberalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

Finally, although Russia still remains a great power in terms of its potential, it is unable to compete with the US on an equal footing in all areas the way the Soviet Union did - especially economically and technologically. In regard to economic competition with the US, the closest analogue ...

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