Russia-West impasse hard to break due to deep divergence

(Xinhua) 16:12, November 22, 2021

MOSCOW, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Tensions between Russia and the West continued escalating over a broad range of disputes, and few tangible actions are expected to break the impasse in the foreseeable future.

Russia, the United States and the European Union (EU) have never been short of contradictions regarding chronic problems, including military threats, Ukraine and alleged interference in one another's domestic political processes.

Meanwhile, new rifts are arising around the migrant crisis on the Belarus-EU borders, Russia's anti-satellite test, as well as the FBI's hostile measures toward Russian community members in the United States.

Analysts forecast that general relations between Russia and the West will not significantly improve in a short time as their values and strategic goals diverge, and the U.S. policy on Russia lacked a sense of fair play amid rising anti-Russian sentiment among U.S. policymakers.


The United States and its allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) flexed their muscles earlier this month in the Black Sea with warships and strategic bombers approaching the Russian state border.

In addition, Washington has provided several batches of military assistance to Ukraine, including weapons and ammunition.

Russian officials blasted NATO for attempting to expand eastwards and slashing the number of Russian diplomats in Brussels. After rounds of trading barbs, Moscow has severed all official ties with the bloc.

In a new hot spot, some Western countries have criticized Minsk for the ongoing migrant crisis on the Belarus-EU borders and claimed that Moscow was also behind it. Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the involvement of Russia and Belarus, noting it is the Western countries themselves who have caused the crisis.

The U.S. State Department slammed Russia for endangering all spacecraft by destroying a retired satellite in a recent missile test, while Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos stressed that the debris poses no threat.

Last week, the Russian Community Council of the United States announced a temporary suspension of its activities due to an FBI probe that targeted members of the Russian community in the United States, which it saw as "a form of pressure reminiscent of the Cold War era."


Although Putin reiterated that Moscow is open to contacts and dialogue, experts believed that the Russia-West confrontation on a broad range of issues will last as the two sides diverge.

Sourabh Gupta, senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, pointed out a much "broader and overarching problem" for U.S.-Russia ties is that "the U.S. has disrespectfully never treated post-Cold War Russia as a peer or equal."

He noted the U.S. policy on Russia since the end of the Cold War "has failed to exhibit an elementary sense of fair play."

"The U.S. has compounded this gracelessness with an attitude that whilst Moscow must let go of its Soviet-era Cold War mentality and release its neighbors and satellites to choose their own geopolitical destinies, Washington could keep indefinitely holding on to its Cold War mentality vis-a-vis Moscow and, using allies and partners, push up militarily to Russia's borders," Sourbah said.

Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, attributed the lack of progress to domestic political restrictions in the United States.

"In recent years, a strong anti-Russian consensus has developed there. U.S. policymakers perceive Russia as both a geopolitical and an ideological adversary," he said.

Suslov predicted that there will be "controlled or stable confrontation" between the two countries, namely continuing the faceoff, minimizing the damage, preventing further escalation and refusing concessions.

When addressing an expanded meeting of the Russian Foreign Ministry Board last week, Putin drew a hard line in relations with the West as a whole, denouncing its unilateral sanctions and confrontational stance.

But Putin also praised his June summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva for opening up a few opportunities for improving relations, noting that joint work has begun on strategic stability and information security issues.

The remarks can be perceived as a "constructive signal" as Moscow and Washington are preparing for a second summit between Putin and Biden, said Alexei Zudin, a senior lecturer at Russia's MGIMO University.

However, Ivan Timofeev, director of programs at the Russian International Affairs Council, was pessimistic about high-level interactions as he saw "no tangible steps towards improving relations" following the presidents' first meeting. 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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