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Moscow’s message to Washington carried by missiles

(Global Times)    08:13, October 09, 2015

Russia announced Wednesday that its four warships in the Caspian Sea launched 26 cruise missiles at 11 Islamic State (IS) targets, destroying them without causing civilian casualties. The upgraded strikes show Moscow's strength of will and also Russia's exceptional capabilities of making long-range accurate attacks.

Russia has not flexed its muscles in this way since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The West always sees Russia as living off obsolete missiles from Soviet times. It's shocking that NATO had no information until Russia announced its missile attack against IS targets 1,500 kilometers away. US Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command Admiral William Gortney said that Russia's cruise missile threat is a "particular challenge."

The West didn't expect Moscow to launch strikes against the IS or take further action in the aftermath. It's hard to assess Russia's strength with general standards. Its GDP is smaller than South Korea with a fading manufacturing sector, but it remains a geopolitical force that gives the West its biggest headache. Russia appears to have inherited the Soviet Union quality of rejecting mediocrity. Such a country can hardly lead in global competition, but may take others, particularly rivals, by surprise with breakthroughs in key fields.

The West has greatly squeezed Russia's strategic room after the Cold War, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejuvenated the country. Despite much scorn for Russia's major power position and recent pressure from the oil price slump and ruble depreciation, Russia never flinched over the Ukraine and Syria issues and instead shows much momentum.

The Western media mostly considered Russia's attacks against the IS as intended to protect the Assad regime. Certainly the US needs to work with Russia on combating the IS and hence Washington is not in a position to keep demonizing Russia.

Some observers in China think what Putin truly wants is to divert the West's focus from Ukraine to Syria and over this to create opportunities for détente with the US, which will be easier than over the Ukraine issue.

The West feels uncomfortable to see the Kremlin interact with it in such an unusual way, but it appears to be less tough than before. This may be what Putin wanted to start with.

Moscow will send a message of détente to Washington with a dignified and even strong gesture. Given the pride of the White House and deep-seated US prejudice against Russia, it is unknown whether Washington will respond to Putin's message.

The West's future attitude to the Assad regime and toward cooperation with Russia will help decide whether Russia and the US can lessen the tensions in their relationship.  

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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