Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Return of the Cold War?

Vladmir Putin's Russia has been flexing her military muscles, lately, by violating the air space of Finland, with bomber flyovers.
This may seem like a threat likened to that of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but it is merely a reflection of what is happening inside the political mechanisms of that country.
With the ongoing emergence of the new Democratic Russia, the goings-ons inside the Kremlin have not changed much from the Soviet days. You have the same kinds of power struggles among the various departments of the government, and the added struggles among the various political parties. As Peter Rutland writes in Business Week, the Russian President does not want to be seen as a "lame duck," in his waning months as President. He wants to show the world, and, especially, the Russian people that his United Russia party has allowed Russia to return to its status as a world power. It is all for the sake of the Russian elections coming up next year.
Russia is dependent on trade with other nations. The Soviet Union fell, because America and other nations in the West, refused to conduct trade in technological goods with that country. Already far behind the rest of the world in technological development, the Soviet economy could not compete in world trade, so the economy bottomed out and the Soviet government disintegrated. Even with Russia's oil wealth, today, trade is still very important in keeping the economy healthy. Russian economists and Putin's cabinet surely understand that.
The bottom line is that the show of force is more for the benefit of the United Russia party than for the rest of the world. Russia can not burn bridges with the rest world, and slow the advancement of an economy that was only recently devastated by corruption and bad policy. According to the Russian constitution, Putin is limited to three terms, after which he must step down. He is obviously intending to remain in power, either by proxy or by constitutional loopholes, so it is important to him to maintain the image of Russian power.
So, there does not seem to be a desire to return to the Cold War. It is only Russian politics in action.

No comments: