Russian President, Vladimir Putin, remained defiant to western powers last Tuesday who he promised would never “subjugate” Russia. Putin made his remarks at the United People’s Front’s Second Action Forum in Moscow, in front of an all-Russian coalition of groups. A member of the forum had commented that the goal of the United States was to humiliate Russia; however, Putin corrected this statement with his own view.
“They don’t want to humiliate us, they want to subjugate us, to solve their problems at our expense,” he proclaimed. “They want to bring us under control! Throughout history no one has ever succeeded in doing that to Russia and they never will,” he added confidently.
The tough talk at the forum has led many to speculate that the Russian President was saving face over the tensions that rose at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia. Many Western world leaders approached Putin over his suspected involvement of the Ukrainian civil war by assisting rebel groups in the east. According to his spokesman, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper approached the Russian leader and after shaking hands gave an austere statement, “I have only one thing to say to you. You need to get out of Ukraine.”
Other world powers like Australia and Great Britain approached Putin with equally harsh statements. Prime Minister Tony Abbot was reported to have called on Putin to “atone” for the Malaysian plane crash in rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine. British Prime Minister David Cameron also invoked the Ukraine crisis, describing Russia’s relationship with the west is at a “fork in the road.” According to the RIA Novosti news agency, the Russian leader left the summit early not because of tensions with the West, but to catch some shut-eye. “We need to get home and return to work on Monday. There is a need to sleep at least four to five hours,” Putin was reported to have said.
Amid these rising tensions and economic sanctions against Russia, many are wondering whether we have entered a new phase in the Cold War. It was a surprise to many a when former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, gave his statements earlier this month on the condition of the world. Gorbachev is known as the Russian leader who initiated a rapprochement with the West, his stern words during the 25th celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall in regard to current events give precedent to the severity of the world order if this course continues.
“The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some say that is has already begun,” said Gorbachev. He holds western powers, particularly the United States, in contempt for the current world state. He claimed the U.S. had monopolized and dominated the world since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, which many at an event held at the Brandenburg Gate had warned against. Becoming a dominant world power had let “euphoria and triumphalism” get to their heads, he exclaimed.
The former leader of Russia seemed to echo the words spoken by the country’s current leader at a meeting held in September. The Valdai International Discussion Club is made up of “more than 200 hundred Russian and foreign politicians, public and spiritual leaders, philosophers and cultural figures, people with very different, original and sometimes opposing views,” Putin said in his opening statement at the final meeting of the club. This year’s theme was Russia’s Diversity for the Modern World.
Although the meeting had not been widely covered in western media outlets, besides some calling it aggressive and defiant rhetoric from the Russian President, Putin seemed to appear more forthcoming and progressive than his fellow world powers. Speaking on the United States’ actions against Syria, Putin explained how such undermining actions threatened the current world order. The Russian leader warned that unilateral action against a nation would undermine the UN and its Security Council and reduce the international order to zero.
Speaking further on Syria, Putin brought attention to Obama’s failed foreign policy in the region. He even accused the American president of enabling terrorist groups like the Islamic State. “President Obama labeled the Islamic State one of the main global threats. But who helped to arm those fighting against Assad in Syria? Who created a political and informational climate that fits their interest? Who promoted weapon transfers? I think this policy is absolutely irrational, unprofessional and groundless,” the Russian leader exclaimed.
While the president’s political rhetoric is growing more defiant against western powers, Russia’s military tactics have also begun to heat up. Many outlets report of a Russian ship jamming communications and missile systems on an US ship. Military officials have also confirmed long-range bomber planes appearing in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean in what some have linked to the growing proxy war of Ukraine. As talks of a new Cold War emerging continue, much of what is seen today between western powers and Russia indicate it to be warming up.
By Abdirahman R. Mohamed
Photo courtesy of World Economic Forum – Flickr License