Return of the great game (Comment)
Sep 6 (RIA Novosti) After the breakup of the Soviet Union,
many intellectuals in Russia and the West announced "the
end of history". It seemed that the United States' complete
domination of the world was not disputed by anyone.
subsequent decade, during which Russia lost its foreign policy
positions, and its former satellites and even provinces became
US and NATO allies, seemed to have buttressed this idea.
first signal that the situation was changing came Sep 11,
2001, when it appeared that US domination did not guarantee
Washington absolute security.
the first time since the Soviet Union's collapse, the US had
to bargain in order to guarantee the loyalty of its allies.
With the start of the Iraqi conflict, US domination was called
into question even more openly, despite obvious successes
in the post-Soviet space such as the admission of the Baltic
nations into NATO and permission to use bases in Central Asia.
the second half of the first decade of the new century a new
trend has become visible. Russia's consolidation, buoyed by
a favourable economic situation and political stabilization,
raised the issue of spheres of influence, at least in the
post-Soviet space and Eastern Europe.
issues of missile defence and the Kosovo problem proved the
Rubicon of East-West relations. The West demonstratively ignored
Russia's position, and this was bound to evoke response. Russia
had to face military confrontation and settle disputes in
the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to its own benefit,
without looking to the West.
as soon as Mikheil Saakashvili came to power, many observers
began to see Georgia as the most probable arena of an armed
conflict with Russia. All the prerequisites for this were
in place - Georgia's conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia,
the presence of many Russian citizens in these republics,
and Tbilisi's open desire to subjugate the rebellious territories.
is no need to describe the history of the five-day war again.
Its main geopolitical result is not the recognition of Abkhazia
and South Ossetia but the return of political confrontation
between Russia and the West.
could it lead to?
wants a military solution to the conflict, which could be
fatal for the whole world. Both sides will have to prove their
cases by political and economic means.
integration into the world economy over the last 15 years
has led to a situation where the West cannot inflict serious
damage on it without hurting itself as much, if not more.
a result, Russia's main lobbyists to Western governments are
the Western companies, for which a quarrel with the eastern
neighbour could be financially ruinous.
from oil and gas, there are agreements on the supply of Russian
titanium spare parts for the world's biggest aircraft-builders,
the Russian market for cars and other hardware, and many other
spheres where cessation of economic cooperation will deal
substantial damage to Western interests.
there are political, as well as financial, interests that
would be damaged by confrontation with Russia.
Space cooperation between Russia and the United States, the
air corridor granted by Russia for NATO flights to Afghanistan
and some other programmes are not as obvious as oil and gas
supplies, but are too important to be jeopardized over Moscow's
recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
will global confrontation be like now? It is clear that the
point of no return has already been reached. Russia is not
prepared to renounce its positions as it did in the 1990s.
The West may be indignant, but it will have to face reality
- it has become too expensive to risk.
will the next round of confrontation after Georgia take place?
is hard to predict with certainty, but it is likely to be
in Ukraine, where not only the destiny of the Black Sea Fleet
but also Russia's influence in Eastern Europe is at stake.
This round will be bloodless. At any rate, I would like to
hope that Ukraine is not going to oust the Black Sea Fleet
from the Crimea by force.
the propaganda confrontation will be much more intense than
in Georgia. A world event is not the one in which 10,000 take
part, but the one which is being filmed by 10 TV cameras.
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