Russia Foreign Policy Focused On Regaining Influence
The affair of Edward Snowden has elicited talk of a resurgence of the Cold War. While the actors are the same, the international dynamics have changed since the US-Russian relations were as frigid as they are today. First and foremost, Russia is no longer the global power it was in the 1980s having been eclipsed by China. Second, it is becoming more evident that President Barack Obama’s patience has worn thin and that the administration views Putin as irrelevant.
Steven Pifer writes in the Moscow Times: “If Obama concludes that there is no prospect of Russian movement on this or other issues key to his agenda, the value of going to Moscow for a bilateral meeting with Putin on the eve of the Group of 20 summit in St Petersburg becomes questionable, particularly when the Edward Snowden case and political repression in Russia would generate criticism at home. More broadly, the White House may decide that Putin has little to offer — and thus does not really matter — for Obama’s goals in his last three years in office.”
Russia Seeking Influence In Europe, Latin America
With the US favoring a policy of disengagement (leaving Iraq and Afghanistan), an opportunity for the Russians to increase their influence in Europe and to create problems for the US.
“The Russians are helping to maintain potential crises in the Middle East that the Americans might be tempted to get involved in. The Russians are also reactivating and expanding a network of relationships with regimes in Latin America. There is a long-standing anti-Americanism in Latin America that equates anti-Americanism with left-wing politics. Today, the Russians are hardly left-wingers ideologically; they are nationalists. But the ability to create tensions between Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia and the United States costs the Russians little and has potential benefits,” George Friedman of the strategic intelligence firm Stratfor writes.
The energy-rich, former Eastern bloc nations, including the Ukraine and Belarus are at the center of Russia’s strategy to wield its influence and to gain an upper hand as the European Union attempts to lure those countries into its economic sphere, argues Judy Dempsey in The New York Times.
Russia opposes these countries’ moving closer to the European Union. “Moscow clearly fears losing influence over this region. But is the EaP so great that it can counter the pull of the Kremlin?” said Eugeniusz Smolar, a regional expert at the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw.