U.S and Russia

Analysts are saying that U.S, Russian relationship is entering a new period of cold war. However U.S, Russian relationship has been in a state of cold war for some time. We will have to look at the relationship aftermath second world war when U.S and Soviet Union (Predecessor of Russia) carved out their own spheres of influence.

Historically the relationship between U.S and Soviet Union was determined by ideological differences. Both super powers had their own client states and followed a policy of confrontation based on ideology. Soviet Union supported Vietnam against U.S occupation. Similarly U.S supported Afghan mujahidin against what they perceived as Soviet Occupation. Vietnam War cost U.S tremendously in terms of economy and military power. At the end of Vietnam War in 1975 U.S has lost ground in terms of prestige and support as a Super power. Most of the U.S allies lost power or countries allied to U.S lost their colonies. 

Portugal lost all it's colonies in Africa i.e. Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. Nicaraguan dictator ship was over thrown. Finally in 1980, most important U.S ally in Middle East Shah of Iran was overthrown by the Islamic revolution. In addition Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia were able to use the oil leverage to apply pressure on U.S to pressure Israel to withdraw from most of the occupied territories in Middle East. In Middle East radical regimes came to power in Yemen and Iraq. By the time U.S embassy was occupied by radical Iranians in Tehran U.S foreign policy and projection of military strength was in tatters.

In 1980 U.S public voted arch conservative Ronald Reagan into power. Sixteen years before that Barry Goldwater who was less conservative than Reagan lost heavily in U.S presidential elections. U.S public has turned further to the right. Ronald Reagan started rebuilding U.S economic and military strength. 1980s was also the period for technological innovations such as PCs and Information Technology. U.S leveraged advances made in the technology to rebuild its economic and military strength. In the mean time Soviet Union in 1980 sent troops to Afghanistan to support radical Afghan government and got involved in the afghan quagmire. U.S started supplying weapons to Afghan mujahidin who were fighting Soviet forces.

While Soviets were getting sucked into Afghan quagmire U.S started flexing its muscles in its immediate neighborhood. Tiny island of Grenada in Caribbean was invaded by U.S troops to restore order when the radical government was over thrown by its own extreme radical wing.
Soon afterwards U.S troops invaded Panama to overthrow Noriega government. Once U.S re established supremacy in its own back yard it turned its attention to Middle East. Middle East was critical to U.S Leadership especially to the Vice President George Bush Snr who was backed by the oil lobby. U.S ally Israel embarked on invasion of Lebanon in 1986 to destroy the Palestinian liberation organization (PLO). U.S also supported Iraq against its arch nemesis Iran during the Iraq- Iran war. At the end of Iraq-Iran war in 1990  Iraq emerged as a major power in Middle East and a potential threat to U.S ally Israel. 

Iraq leader Saadam's misguided adventure to Kuwait offered an opportunity for U.S to destroy Iraqi strength and reestablish it's supremacy in Middle East. It is important to note that Iraq had a defense agreement with Soviet Union. As Soviet Union was involved in Afghan quagmire and going through massive internal upheaval it could not support its ally. Collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 brought the cold war to an end as U.S emerged as the sole super power. Soviet Union and its successor Russia lost all their allies and power. 

Putin came to power initially as a Prime minister under Yeltsin and then subsequently became the President in 2000. Since then he has rebuilt the economy and military strength. In the meantime U.S has embarked on its own afghan quagmire in 2001 after 9/11 attacks. In addition more than 300000 U.S troops are involved in Iraq war. U.S involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan has also led to the distraction of U.S projection of power in its back yard, Latin America. Three countries in South America have radical governments. These governments are Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Venezuela's military ties with Russia are growing. In addition U.S nemesis, Cuba still has hostile relationship with U.S. Number of U.S allies in Latin America are in a minority for the first time in last 60 years.

Russia and U.S formed partnership to fight Islamic fundamentalism in 2001. However both countries had different objectives. For Russia the fight was against Chechen rebels. Under Putin, Russia's nuclear doctrine has first strike capability. In addition Russia has tested new generation of long range missiles and restarted long range reconnaissance. As such both U.S and Russia are in a state of cold war for a few years. Although in public everything was friendly, both countries have been following a policy of undermining each other's interests. 

Georgia war has however brought the cold war into open. rebels whereas for U.S the fight was against world wide Islamic fundamentalism. As more resources were used against the fight against fundamentalism, U.S realized belatedly in 2004 that Russia is reemerging as an independent major power. Subsequently U.S has taken steps to curb this power by trying to encircle Russia with hostile governments. Orange revolution brought a pro western government Ukraine. In addition U.S has embarked on efforts to install missile shields in Czech Republic and Poland. These missile shields although being promoted as a defense against missiles from rogue states i.e. Iran, North Korea, the real purpose is to deter Russia's nuclear strike capability. President Putin has changed the nuclear doctrine of Soviet Union. Soviet Union only had nuclear deterrent as a second strike. In addition Russia has re-initiated long range bomber patrols over Arctic and Pacific Oceans.

 U.S has sent warships to Black Sea (traditionally backyard of Russia) to deliver relief aid to Georgia. In retaliation Russia will be conducting joint exercises with Venezuelan Navy in the Caribbean Sea, traditional back yard of U.S. Russian navy will be led by it's nuclear powered flagship. In addition Nicaragua is the first country to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. Russia is also airlifting aid to Cuba as part of Hurricane relief. Russia will be reestablishing it's presence in U.S back yard with old allies such as Cuba and Nicargua. In addition it has new allies such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Russian strategic bombers have been sent to Venezuela and have started patrolling over Caribean sea.

30th August 2008