Russia under Putin: Seeking to Play a Global Role and Prevent the Hegemony of NATO

Although some scholars mentioned that the post-American era has begun, but I disagree. USA may have struggled during the Trump era but it is still by far the strongest military power–more powerful in fact that the next five nations lumped together. But I do think there is an age problem in American politics. All the leading politicians are over 75 at present, and some well over: Biden, Pelosi, McConnell. Bernie Sanders has been the leading politician on the left in the past two elections. Without being ageist, I see this as a problem. Why are there no young people seeking the highest positions?

I think that US foreign policy will change toward Russia in Biden’s administration. I suppose this is already happening to some extent. Biden is a leader raised in the Cold War and focused on promoting human rights and democracy. Policy toward Russia will harden, and the United States will work more closely with NATO and the EU than it did over the past decade. I also see some prospective internal issues in Russia, with a stronger opposition to the current rigid authoritarian leadership, particularly if Aleksei Navalny dies in prison. The protests in Khabarovsk are a harbinger of things to come.

In the new era, I think Russia will have some economic difficulties because its economy is miniscule compared to its military ambitions. Yes, it has nuclear weapons. But we know they cannot ever be used. It is dependent heavily on oil and gas exports and suffers when sanctions are imposed. Its sabre rattling on Ukraine’s eastern border is intended to intimidate. It cannot realistically invade Ukraine in a full-scale war.

Russia has played a prominent role in the Syrian civil war and has kept the current government in power. In so doing, the main advantages are access to a couple of ports and a long-standing relationship. Russia has become close to Iran and they have some common interests, including in Syria. Iran’s association with the Eurasian Economic Community is a reflection of this partnership. It’s somewhat surprising given earlier history and Russia’s lack of need for oil. Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, has interests around the world, and pursues them. He has been aided of late by the Trump administration’s isolationism and opposition to the JCPOA.

Russia under Putin has a reputation for loyalty to its allies and ruthlessness toward those who seek to sever relations or keep more distant (Ukraine, Baltic States, Poland, etc). It seeks in short to play a large role on the world stage and to prevent the hegemony of NATO. Iran is one of its allies, along with Syria. As long as Putin remains in power, I think Russia is a reliable ally for Iran. But it’s not a selfless ally. It also should be noted that there is a doubt the EU would ever converge. There are too many differences between the member countries and there are always times when national concerns take priority among the European members.

It might be argued that Russia looks at Iran as a playing card to strengthen its beginning power in negotiating with Western powers, I think that is to somehow accurate. Putin and Lavrov look at the world that way. It’s a competition to them, with winners and losers. It is not diplomacy.

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