Moscow-Washington tension may endure

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/9 0:08:39

Moscow and Washington are seemingly intent on further confronting each other. It was reported Friday that Russia is considering reopening military bases in Cuba and Vietnam. US media condemned Russia's provocation immediately. On the same day, US secretary of State John Kerry called for a "war crimes" investigation of Russia and the Assad government.

Escalating tensions between Russia and the US may be viewed as a prelude to a new cold war if the two have equal power. However, since Russia is not considered to have the strength to engage in a cold war with the US, it is difficult to define the current Moscow-Washington conflict.

Neither is trying to restrain its hatred toward the other. That the open hostility doesn't expand may be due to Moscow's limited power to challenge Washington comprehensively and Washington's focus on China as its top strategic foe.

Russia is resisting strongly against the US and NATO squeezing its strategic space; meanwhile to the West, Russia is an untamed force even if its power is waning. The two sides are reaching for a new balance. In the latest move, the US government has formally accused Russia of hacking the Democratic party's computer networks, but the accusation seems to be campaigning for Hillary Clinton, as she is always criticizing her Republican rival Donald Trump as Vladimir Putin's friend. Cyber security is unlikely to detonate conflicts between Russia and the US.

Washington is increasingly unfriendly to Moscow, and as a result, Putin suspended a treaty with the US on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium. This, together with the restoration of military bases in Cuba and Vietnam, is Russia's reaction against the US. By calling for a "war crimes" probe of Moscow's operations in Syria, Kerry is exerting psychological pressure on Russia. Both sides will give vent to the accumulating hostile sentiments.

The Syrian situation is the most likely outlet. While dominating the situation in Syria, both Russia and the US are constrained by various forces in the region. The two sides are very close to a direct conflict or a public proxy war.

A "war crimes" probe is not operational, but will deepen enmity with Russia. Although Kerry did not name Putin, the latter will eventually bear all the Western charges. It seems that as long as Putin is in office, the Russia-US relationship is unlikely to improve.

Moscow has no intention to challenge Washington. At the dawn of the 21st century, Putin decided to close military bases in Cuba and Vietnam to alleviate Russia's financial difficulties and, more importantly, to show goodwill to the US. However, Russia's efforts were only paid back by a tougher Russia policy from the US.

The US is too rapacious strategically. It is not easy for US society and its arrogant elites to reflect deeply. Washington's mistaken Russia policy will almost certainly continue, and the Russia-US relationship will be tense for a long time to come.

Posted in: Editorial

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