The Western bloc, spearheaded by the US, continued without any competition thereafter and has generally secured for itself the title of the world’s sole superpower in current international relations.
The US has effected military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and kept a vigil on the Asia Pacific region with impunity and is presently busy trying to browbeat Iran. All this has been possible because there is nobody to present an effective opposition front to America’s dominance of most global sensitive spots.
Russia’s problems were further exacerbated through two successive ineffectual Presidents. First was Mikhail Gorbachov whose ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ made any difference either to his country’s standing or to the Western bloc’s attitude towards it.
Next came Boris Yeltsin who took refuge in vodka whenever he found things were getting too complicated for him to handle. His performance during the Balkan crisis was deplorable. Consequently, Russia became somewhat of a loose ball without any direction and remained so till Vladimir Putin became the country’s President.
Putin, a dynamic person, has firmly set his eye on two aspects of Russia’s resurgence first of all, to positively address its faltering economy and second to regain its place as an appreciable power centre. He appears to be on the right course for both his objectives.
While the economy is taking its own path to betterment, President Putin is now trying to uplift Russia, in global politics with the intention of relocating itself in a position from where Moscow can take a hegemonic control ‘n international relations again. His initial pronouncement in this context was strongly objecting to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) expansion eastwards to within reach of Russia’s European border.
However, the Western block, with the European Union playing a leading part, paid little heed to his objections and is at present locked in a fresh controversy over a missile defence system that this bloc wants to set up in Eastern Europe.
Although the bloc’s leader to wit, Washington furnishes vague replies when queried by Moscow as to against which enemy is this system being established, it is apparent that the bloc is pursuing a policy of sanitising its territorial entity from any visualised Russia threat, be it real or imaginary.
Another factor that bothers Russia is the increasing membership of the European Union wherein former Russian States are being wooed to join. Hungry, Poland and Czech Republic set the stage for this entry and these States are now cocking a snooks at their previous partner.
At present, Russia has virtually no influence in West Asia as all the Arab countries directly or indirectly enjoy a good equation with the US. Making matters worse are periodic reports that Russia’s insurgency problem with the Chechen rebels is being fuelled by Wahabi ideology from West Asian countries, egged on by the US.
Russia has recovered to considerable height from the crippling aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union and is now in a position to reassert its national pride, mainly regaining its earlier place and influence in the international arena.
It is truly concerned about its security environment, especially about the enlargement of American military process close to its borders, a sort of re-run of the old encirclement policy by displaying, deploying and developing its military clout, Russia is only resuming what the West on its part never stopped doing.
The Putin leadership wants to convince Russians that the era of want and weakness is past and they are, military and otherwise, second to none again, thereby creating the right ambience for Putin’s successor in the Kremlin to stay the course.