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Obama’s rhetoric fuels Moscow-Washington tensions - expert

September 25, 2014, 20:14 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama

© EPA/Allan Tannenbaum / POOL

MOSCOW, September 25. /ITAR-TASS/. US President Barack Obama’s statement at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly indicates that Washington has in effect launched a strategy of containing Russia, the Director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Sergey Rogov, told ITAR-TASS in an interview.

As he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Obama said that Russia’s actions in Ukraine endangered the world order that emerged after World War II. He added that the United States was prepared to exert more pressure on Russia using the mechanism of sanctions. “If Russia takes … a path that for stretches of the post-Cold War period resulted in prosperity for the Russian people — then we will lift our sanctions and welcome Russia’s role in addressing common challenges,” Obama said.

“Obama’s statements about the deep gap between the West and Russia in the "post-Cold War period” phrase is the key one. The world order then was maintained on the basis of strategic stability that existed between the two super-powers — the United States and Russia. The collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War were interpreted as a victory of the West and Washington put the emphasis on the consolidation of the monopolar world. But that did not happen, though. A polycentric system prevailed in international relations. Although it lost the superpower status, Russia has remained one of the centers of power,” Rogov said.

“For the past few decades, the United States and the West were playing a “zero sum game” in Europe, putting the emphasis on the expansion of NATO, specifically, the adoption of the Soviet Union’s former allies and even some former Soviet republics. As a result, Ukraine has been brought to the forefront in this geopolitical rivalry,” Rogov said.

“Russia’s intention to resume re-integration processes in the post-Soviet space were interpreted by Washington as an attempt to recreate the Soviet empire. For this reason, the United States supported the European Union’s plan for an association with Ukraine, Moldova and a number of other former Soviet republics. That provoked an acute internal political crisis in Kiev and the forcible overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich,” Sergey Rogov said.

“The West fully supported the ultra-nationalist anti-Russian groups that rose to power in Kiev. That sparked protests in the south-east of Ukraine. As a result of last March’s referendum, Crimea and Sevastopol reunited with Russia, and Donetsk and Luhansk proclaimed themselves so-called people’s republics. The United States and its allies see the situation as violation of the status quo, although the status quo was first violated as a result of the government coup,” Rogov believes.

“The West has offered political and economic assistance to the authorities in Kiev, which unleashed a civil war in Donbass. The United States and the European Union labeled support for the opponents of the Kiev regime as ‘Russian aggression’ and took harsh measures to punish Russia. These measures include a freeze on informal political contacts, the termination of military ties and a string of economic sanctions,” Rogov recalled.

“The West sticks to its uncompromising stance, although an agreement on ceasefire in the east of Ukraine has been achieved and the first steps taken towards a political settlement of the conflict in Donbass,” Rogov said.

“Russia and the West are on the brink of another Cold War. There has been no such acute standoffs since the early 1980s. In fact, the Obama Administration has launched a strategy of containing Russia, although in official documents that term has not been used yet,” Rogov pointed out.

“For propaganda purposes, Washington has put Russia next to such menaces to the world as the Ebola virus and Islamic terrorism. This means that there remains the risk of a further aggravation of international tensions,” Rogov said.

“However, another Cold War, which may last years, is not utterly unavoidable. Political realism and awareness of each other’s national interests will be pushing Washington and Moscow towards a resumption of the political dialogue, although the intensity of current propagandistic rhetoric is a great hindrance in the way of such a dialogue. But even in the worst Cold War years, during the most acute crises, such as the Caribbean standoff in 1962, Moscow and Washington managed to find ways of coming to terms, although on a very limited range of issues,” Rogov said.

“In his statement at the UN General Assembly Barack Obama demonstrated that the United States was not going to reconsider its policy towards Russia. This position ignores the fact that despite different approaches to the Ukrainian crisis Russia and the United States still have some common interests. Such as the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, the threat coming from the Islamic State, the problem of nuclear arms proliferation, the global climate and so on,” Rogov said.

“I do hope that common sense will prevail in this case, too, and the situation will start getting back to normal in several months’ time. Some other options are possible, too,” Rogov remarked.

“For the time being the official dialogue is stalled. A dialogue at the level of non-governmental experts might facilitate the search for likely solutions. We are prepared for such a dialogue. Let me remind you that during the Cold War yearsm such contacts helped draft the treaty that outlawed nuclear tests in three media, the strategic arms limitation treaty and the anti-ballistic missile defense treaty," Rogov said.

“Regrettably, these days attempts are being made to sever even science ties between Russia and the United States. This by no means contributes to terminating the acute phase of the conflict,” Rogov said in conclusion.

 

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