Monday, April 03, 2006

Russians Sense the Heat of Cold War

Russians Sense the Heat of Cold War

One last topic before calling it a night - The Washington Post has another article describing Russian attitudes towards the US, as Russia has some sense of its "sphere of influence" in former CCCP nations dwindling. Much of this perception feeds the aggressive weapons dealing in the Middle East that I cited earlier. I should note that those weapons sales are also driven by Russian budgetary demands and need to keep the Russian weapons industry viable - but it certainly doesn't hurt from the Russian perspective that they are selling weapons to nations the US considers troublesome.

"Today, it's accepted by most of the establishment that we are under pressure, that we are being surrounded, and it's leading to a defensive nationalist vision," said Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of the United States and Canada in Moscow. "The idea of admitting Ukraine into NATO is hammering the final nail into the coffin of Russia as an independent great power," Rogov said. "We go out, you go in. Unfortunately, it's almost a consensus in Russia that the West is trying to isolate Russia."
Launching into what I would consider ... that unique form of Russian border paranoia, we have Natalia Narochnitskaya (she of Rodina party fame). Ms. Narochnitskaya isn't just some crazy person - she is a chairman of the International Affairs Committee in the State Duma.

"We are gradually being pushed to the northeast of the Eurasian continent away from the seas . . . to the place where the depths of freezing is more than two meters," said Natalia Narochnitskaya, vice chairman of the international affairs committee in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, and a member of the nationalist Rodina Party.

She rues the loss of the three Baltic states to European Union and NATO membership and the possible loss of Russia's naval presence on the Black Sea.

"The messianism of American foreign policy is a remarkable thing," she said. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks, Narochnitskaya said, "it seems like Khrushchev reporting to the party congress: 'The whole world is marching triumphantly toward democracy but some rogue states prefer to stay aside from that road, etc. etc."

Good lord - where has this woman been getting her news? The whole world in lock-step with the US? Outside of the UK and Eastern Europe, I can't think of a single reliable ally that the US has these days (and much of that is the fault of US policy makers, such as our Mr. Bush).

Of course, Ms. Narochnitskaya isn't looking any further than Eastern Europe ... that is the reason for her excited statements. The fact is, Russia has not been pushed to the northeast - Russia's borders remain just as they have been. She sounds rather dramatic in suggesting otherwise. The difference is - those nations that were held under the Soviet Union's sway for so long (and that may be putting it nicely) ... have long-standing resentments towards Russian dominance which are finally being heard. Russian citizens are fond of saying the Balkans were saved from the Nazi's by Russian soldiers; however, the citizens of the Balkans would have preferred it if the Russians had gone home afterwards.

I'll leave with one last quote from the article, which I found didn't really contribute very much to the story - but was interesting none the less:
"For a person of democratic and liberal persuasions, I can say that Russia has never been freer or more affluent," said Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. "Putin inherited a non-state, so he first wants to build a state and create the conditions for modernization and democracy. Do I worry about some domestic developments? Of course. I could be more critical than most Americans. But it's like blaming winter for following autumn."

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