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Russia And Realism

The world has changed. Today, a look back at the Cold War provides inspiration for life lived in the surreal more than the realities created since the Curtain fell. Although capitalism and communism are not terms used with the same amount of relevance as they once were, our foreign policy we are still sleeping with their ghosts.

The United States has bigger problems than Russia at the moment. The sick and twisted ideology of violence practiced by groups like al Qaeda and ISIS in the Middle East has gone global, and its influence has already been felt in America as well as Europe. The impact of China within the past 15 years on the world’s economy and its affect on U.S. foreign policy must also be acknowledged. But Russia’s believe-it-or-not involvement with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and its real annexation of Crimea has shown the leaders of the West that Putin’s Russia has the same blueprints used to create the apocalyptic framework that housed the USSR.

Putin’s KGB background offers plenty of insight into what motivates him. His role in Ukraine’s current distress is painfully and purposefully vague, though he may romanticize the Cold War-era and seek to regain what was lost after the fall of Communism. That same KGB mentality explains Putin’s punitive and openly hostile approach to the global community was on display during the Sochi Olympics, but his encore was the denial of any involvement with last July’s downing of Malaysian Air MH17 in a manner characteristic and reminiscent of cold war Russia.

The West has never treated Russia as an equal counterpart, mainly because Russia has never given a reason to be thought of as anything but an adversary and a country to be dealt with only out of necessity. Putin has only represented and reinforced the realities that never truly went away after the Cold War because the manner in which we approached relations has never moved beyond attempting to foster a relationship with whoever is in charge in Russia at the moment.

Russia’s relationship with what is real has always been relevant to how its leader wants it to be perceived, so the shock tied to its involvement in Ukraine is anything but. The West has reacted predictably since before the Cold War. The inability on either side to cultivate a harmonious relationship will only encourage future avoidable confrontations.

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