Russia in theTwenty-first Century


  • Madhavan K. Palat


Russias position in the world is determined by her relations with the US, with both the Democrats and the Communists expecting some form of parity. But the US has not defeated Russia in the Cold War to concede parity. The US unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2001; the START negotiations have lost meaning; NATO has been steadily expanded over Russian objections; and Russia has accepted US bases in Central Asia. Russia can seek solace in the NMD not yet being technologically convincing, in NATO being too flabby for action and Russia herself being a part of NATO, in the terrorist threat of the Taliban being eliminated, and in the absence of direct confrontation with the US. Therefore Russia has turned her attention to conventional capability to beat off threats like the Chechen insurgency and to reforming the army. Russias dealing with Libya, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea have more to do with commercial calculations than challenges to the US. Her special relationships with China and India, the ones that are genuinely independent of US, are likewise driven by the commercial issue of large scale arms sales rather than strategic considerations, although the latter are always kept in view in case they have to be activated.