The Problematic Relationship of the West with the Russian Federation

The Western political and economic establishment as well as much of the public there have the mentality, that “Western Civilization is the best civilization in human history”, and they refuse to realize that the world is radically changing in terms of demography.

Nowadays, there are three essential reasons of current problems between the Western Civilization and Russia. One of them is fundamental and permanent problem rooted to the geopolitical situation, second one is the relation to the cultural difference and the other problem connected with the personal role of the modern Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his negative approach to the West.

1. The Military Presence of The United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), and France in Europe, Africa and The Far East

This has been the irritative factor ever since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to the Russian political elite, the West must not present military in the East Europe, Africa, Japan, and South Korea. Imagine, Russian bases present in Nicaragua and Venezuela and it will be very unpleasant and dangerous for the USA and Canada. The Russian government has the same feeling when they notice openly the expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and all other western oriented blocks and unions in the world.

On the other hand, Russia cannot fully claim that she is still the great superpower, and the Russian society experienced the post imperial trauma. Russia has a huge nuclear arsenal and the ultra-modern hypersonic missiles, but its economy is still too weak to compete for superpower status. The problem that the Russian leadership believes that Russia deserves the first place among the world’s great powers.

2. The Cultural Factor

Russia has been a part of the European scene ever since she was founded. It is not physically that far from western Russia to some of the main European cities. But none of this has drawn the Russians in. Russians become somewhat more-Europeanized perhaps the cultural and ideological differences between them and the Anglo-Saxons would not be so extreme. Nevertheless, there were a set of factors that stopped this. The Western culture in Russia became an elitist property. The government might be well-engaged with French and German culture, but outside the walls of Kremlin palace there was a totally different and unique lifestyle, spread over a huge area, much of trying to survive in harsh conditions at the northern and snowy edge of the world. The culture of the Russian Orthodox Church was an effective buffer against melding with the Roman Catholic and Protestant World. Russia suffered enormously in two catastrophic military invasions from West and Central Europe, and it is still live in the national memory of Russian people. The result was a unique, insular Eurasian Russian culture. There never was a Russia where individuals or groups were at liberty to peacefully challenge the society, import foreign ideas and try to improve it. It is impossible and even catastrophic because the democracy is not efficient in such vast, multinational and frosty state.

3. Vladimir Putin

President Putin wishes just as much as the American presidents do. He dreams to be the winner in the mutual struggle for dominance, that has driven so much of the world for the past three hundred years. But his chance is not good, as he knows. Vulnerability to close by, powerful enemies, a lack of real allies, at the same time Vladimir Putin wants deference from others but not able to obtain it, his state has a very rough and cold climate and limits on their ability to produce modern scientific technology. It is impossible to be real great power with such qualities. Instead, we see how Vladimir Putin try to continue the military aggression towards Ukraine. To speak very confident in the world, you need a big economy. Russia will always struggle to maintain one, and the West, not really. To top up its labor needs, the Western states is quite proficient at absorbing legal immigrants. It can readily compensate for falling birth rates, but Russia cannot do it.

This is important point that the modern Russia is under the absolute control of President Vladimir Putin. We may not know exactly what approach the leaders after Vladimir Putin, will want to take or how amenable they would be to negotiating. It is quite possible that they would be at peace with the West because Russia is the largest European country and maybe they will choose heavy engagement in European institutions. They may prefer unrestricted investment and ownership by European countries in Russia.

On the other side, Russia may have to divert more attention to China with its strong economy and increasingly powerful army and continue the current foreign policy. However, it will mean that Russia must drop out of the Eurocentric World because the Western view of the world and Chinese political vision are not natural allies.

I do not see much in the way of conciliation from the West, unless in the very unlikely event that the Russian government could deal with American government, as well to change the own policy in Ukraine. Russia, on a level playing field. To a large extent, the Americans are in a much better position to continue asserting political and economic exceptionalism. Russia currently does not offer much in the way of economic opportunities and political ideology.

Finally, the world has turned into a big West, but the West must remember that Russia is still an influential actor and has the military superiority and may be potential to create more vigilant issues and concern in the global world and nobody should underestimate their potential.


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