Publisher | A different cold war

In the short space of time between the videoconference held by Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin at the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday, with the bilateral negotiations between US and Russian diplomats in Geneva on Tuesday as a stopover, it has been enshrined, if not it was, an atmosphere of permanent crisis, a political ecosystem that the president of Russia manages with special ease. While think tanks on both sides of the divide scrutinize the nature and characteristics of such heightened mistrust crisis, there are not a few analysts inclined to say that the cold war shadow it is elongated. But some ingredients suggest that the DNA of dissent today is quite different from that which characterized the arms race and the struggle for hegemony between the United States and the Soviet Union for decades.

The first difference between then and now is that Russia, despite being a great military power, lacks the operational consistency of yesteryear and is, at the same time, a very vulnerable economic system within the global economy, although the rise of some companies such as Gazprom may lead one to think otherwise. The second difference is that during the cold war of the past, the United States faced only one adversary and now it does so with two –China is the other opponent-, with the particularity that both have agreed to a marriage of convenience to respond to the competition of the White House and that of a weakened president no matter where you look at it. The third difference is that the United States, through the OTAN, maintains the alliance with its usual allies, not without problems -enormous during the presidency of Donald Trump-, while Russia is still in the process of rebuilding old complicities that vanished with the collapse of the USSR and the liquidation of the Pact from Warsaw.

Hence, the invocation of the specter of the cold war makes sense, but it is debatable that in the short term it will make an appearance. Such a thing would certainly happen if President Putin decided to move from threats to deeds in Ukraine -100,000 soldiers camp near the border-, or appear with weapons and baggage in Cuba The Venezuela, something that would entail extreme danger. Likewise, a postmodern version of the cold war would materialize if Ukraine entered NATO in a hurry, something unlikely, although not entirely ruled out. But, as unlikely as such situations may seem, any of them must be taken into account in the calculation of risks.

The fact is that Moscow keeps extreme vigilance over its backyard since the NATO summit held in Bucharest in April 2008, which approved the entry of Ukraine and Georgia into the organization, although it did not set a date or conditions. And all the demands that President Putin has put on the table are due to the claim that, as in the past, the silhouette of NATO be kept as far away as possible from Russia’s borders. Not only is he going to achieve safety standards that he now believes he does not have, but also the scenic success that he is pursuing in the face of his fellow citizens, who are increasingly skeptical due to the authoritarian drift of the regime and whose reaction to the eventual effects of sanctions imposed by the West, depending on how events unfold in Ukraine, is a mystery that not even Putin is in a position to clear up.

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