Russia has opened a new hotbed of international competition that is receiving global attention these days. By invading Ukraine, Russia has resettled its longstanding scores with US and western allies for the first time after the end of cold-war. Ranging from upending the Uni-polar equation, to challenging the security of eastern European states; erstwhile members of the USSR and creating a geopolitical and geo-economics space for itself in Europe, it is highly anticipated that Russia again is compartmentalizing the European politics upon the narratives of cold war era. Some analysts believe that the United States carries the blame for the Russian Invasion of Ukraine mainly for several reasons.
First, it is construed that the US has maneuvered Russia to Invade Ukraine, for it wanted to hold Russia into chains of international sanctions, to strip Russia off its economic vitality and internal peace. As a consequence, Washington kept coaxing the Ukrainian Regime to join the European Union. Even though Russia already had given a clarion call to attack Ukraine provided that the latter joined the European Union.
Understanding the matter better
Second, the Invasion of Ukraine by Russia has aborted the gas supply from Russia to western Europe particularly Germany and France through the Nord streams gas pipeline. The pipeline has channeled through Ukraine as far in Europe as Germany. Gas supply will give ample political and economic leverages to Russia over European states. Some leaders in the United States opined that Since economic intercourse between states cultivates robust political and strategic bonds, this might swap European Powers (Russia and France) into the ambit of Russia and ebb away US political clout over European powers. It will damage the Euro-centric strategic goals of the US.
Leaders in Washington believe that holding Russia into the web of international institutions could probably mitigate its regional ambitions and could push it onto the path of international liberal orders. In 2014 speech at west Point, President Barack Obama expressed optimism that international Institutions would continue to “reduce the need for unilateral American action and increase restraint among other nations” Russia has joined international economic institutions, such as WTO; security institutions, such as NPT and even human rights organization, like international covenant on civil and political rights. Nonetheless, Russia keeps pursuing its revisionist agenda in abhorrence to the U.S led international liberal order.
In an article published in foreign affair magazine, May 2022, Stacie Goddard concluded that institutional integration failed to deter expansionist powers (Russia and China) from revisionism. Both China and Russia testified to it by their revisionist actions many times in the previous decades. International institutions treat the spoiler states with economic and political sanctions in case the states trespass the international norms. However, in the last two decades, Russia had violated international law once in 2008 when it invaded Georgia to annex two breakaways states; Abkhazia and Ossetia so as to redraw its border and then in 2014 on eastern Ukraine to annex the Crimean Peninsula.
The international institutions had not yet dispirited Russia for repelling the international standards.
What is the way forward?
The matter, which is of grave concern, is that a Ukraine invasion would quench Moscow’s thrust for territorial expansion. Many believe in the U.S that if Russia is not deterred by the US and international Institutions then it will soon initiate its next adventure in the pursuit of territorial expansion. Another perspective that aptly highlights the fact is that the prompt withdrawal of Washington from the international economic arrangements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership; strategic locations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, portrays the United States as relieving itself from the responsibility of overseeing the affairs of Asian region. It gives a green signal to Russia to fill the power vacuum left by the United States in the region.
The question arises, can Russia revitalize itself to share the global and regional power supremacy with the United State? It is not possible in the near future that Russia would compete with the United States and China on the international chessboard, despite having routed the international Norms a couple of times. Two reasons are worth mentioning in this regard. First, unlike the United States and China, Russia’s economy lacks the capacity to compete with the U.S in international politics in the long run. Second, when it comes to Russia’s defense expenditure, it is around 300 times less than that of Washington. With such a defensive posture, it is impossible for Russia to compete with the U.S on the international front.
Notwithstanding, Russia will continue its expansionist agenda in loggerhead with the U.S led international system. However, the renaissance of Russia from the state of slumber is attributed to the bad diplomacy and ill-thought-out strategic decisions of the United States toward Asian region. In countering the United States in the region, Russia made a strategic alliance with China and CARs to mention a few which buttresses Russia’s regional strategic priorities at best. It looks very unlikely for Washington to cut off Russia’s regional ambitions in the near future.
The writer is a Research Officer at the Center for International Strategic Studies Islamabad (CISS). The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.