Is the Cold War Hotting Up Again?

cold.jpgPost 9/11, America declared a War on Terror. In a nutshell, it was a full-blown assault on Islamic terrorists and all those countries that were considered a safe haven for these fundamental forces. The very same Islamic terrorists, who, at one point of time, had been the key allies of the US in the cold war era. Come 9/11 and it all backfired. Following the attack, America made a call to all the countries of the world to help or aide it in this war. Europe and Australia responded and as a surprise to many, Russia did too. Mr. Vladimir Putin equated the United States’ problems with Islamic terrorists to his own in Chechnya-a Russian province suffering under the hands of militancy. Militants who want Chechnya to break away from the Russian territory as an independent land. As a result, Russia did not object to US setting up military bases in central and west Asia. The reason given was that the bases would help America keep a vigil over Islamic countries in the south. However seven years on, this unending war on terror has taken a backseat.

In a recent development, America has proposed to build a radar system in east Russian territory to counter any nuclear missiles coming in from Iran. Russia, however, is deeply suspicious that US wants to use the radar system to spy on Russian airspace. And this is not a one-off confrontation. The last two to three years have seen a range of issues where Russia and the west have been on loggerheads. The Polonium poisoning of a Russian spy on the UK soil, the western support to Independent Kosovo has made Russia livid. It is threatening to switch off energy supplies to Europe (it once closed its Ukraine pipeline for 12-15 hours on the charge that Ukraine was stealing its energy by not meeting a few contractual obligations). The state of Russian democracy with the Kremlin and the FSB establishing a virtual autocratic Oligarchy by gagging the media and discouraging civic society and its opposing views to that of the Kremlin has increased displeasure of the west. Many in Russia also see America behind the Orange revolution of Ukraine which saw it break away from Russian territory. Russia and US have also restarted their once famous arms race with Russia secretly calling its latest vacuum bomb “Father of all Bombs” in response to The United States Mass Ordinance Atomic Bomb(M.O.A.B.) also called the “Mother of all bombs”.

All these are not co-incidental, rather they serve as a reminder that the east, primarily Russia, and the west are heading for a collision again. The dynamics have changed since the bi-polar world of the 1990s. India and China have emerged as strong powers out of which at least India can do without a Cold war like situation. However, after nearly two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has now been rejuvenated by the petro-dollars. The KGB (now the FSB) and the Kremlin have stabilized. It remains to be seen when Russia pulls the plug and how the west reacts to it. The Cold War, it seems, is hotting up again!

Prateek Kapil

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