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Second "Cold War": geopolitical realities and hidden threats

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Baku, 8 April 2013 – Newtimes.az

The so-called "Cold War” that began in 1946 and lasted until 1991 was characterized by global geopolitical, military, economic and ideological confrontation between the Soviet Union and its allies on one side and the U.S. with its satellites on the opposite side. Not an actual warfare, this confrontation had ideological implications – harsh standoff of mutually hostile Eastern communism and Western democracy. Without directly engaging each other militarily, countries of the North Atlantic Treaty and those of the Warsaw Pact largely aspired to expand its military-political leverage to the maximum extent over all the continents of the globe; from the Far East to Latin America.

It is sufficed to recall large scale clashes between the rivaling blocks in the 1950s-1980s – Korean, Vietnam and Afghan Wars, various revolutions and coups in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Moreover, it was coupled with extensive militarization of two superpowers – the U.S. and the USSR, an unrestrained arms race. Only the parity in nuclear arms capacity of the two deterred the local wars from spilling over into a World War III.

Upon the unconditional victory of the West in the first cold war and short-lived calmness in the wake of the collapse of the USSR and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, as of 2000 the geopolitical picture of the world commenced to undergo significant changes. U.S. and allied troops’ presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deployment of advanced missile defense systems in Eastern Europe became a reality.

Ousted by the West from the Balkans and the Middle East in the 1990s Russia aspires to reinstate its position in those regions to a certain extent. Imperative strategic objective for Russia becomes an attempt to access and solidify its position in the oceans of the world, to regain the status of a great naval nation. Meanwhile, the efforts to "reload” Russia-America relations appear nothing more than a futile PR stunt.

Recent years are associated with sharpening of Russian-American contradictions on the post soviet space. Reminiscent of its imperial past, Russia considers this region a priority for its geopolitical clout, displaying jealous attitude with respect to NATO aspirations, spearheaded by the U.S. and the EU, to penetrate and to secure its positions in the newly-emerged post soviet states thanks to significant economic and military-political potential.

From the geopolitical standpoint, deprived of leverage in Ukraine, the South Caucasus and the Central Asia, Russia becomes quite vulnerable in terms of threats emanating from West, South and East. Moscow considers the concept of Eurasian Union as the only viable form of integration of those countries with Russia. However, ambiguity of political and economic relations of Russia with the countries on the post Soviet space, in some cases exacerbated by ethnic-territorial conflicts and all sorts of "colored revolutions” coupled with the Western intrigues, questions the feasibility of the retro-project in the new format.

In the meantime, China’s growing military-economic power contributes to growing prominence of this great Asian nation on the international arena. Largely, it was made possible thanks achievement of organic unity between the centuries-long traditions of Confucianism, principles of market economy and Marxism ideology. Advancing in the Middle East – Afghanistan direction and also capitalizing anti-China concerns of India, Japan and South Korea, the West is aiming to build next "anaconda loop”, to ensure the geopolitical encirclement of China.

Presently, the "great geopolitical triangle” – U.S.-Russia-China is becoming more distinctively outlined and the fate of mankind will largely depend on relations between the three; and it is the presence of China in the equation that constitutes a "geopolitical puzzle” in various geostrategic combinations. Will it be the military-political clash of three civilizations – Western, Eurasian and Confucian or "amicable” distribution of the spheres of influence on the global scale? Relatively near future will show.

Parvin Darabadi,

D.Sc. (Hist.), Professor at the International Relations Chair of Baku State University

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