This past Monday, Russia announced that it would send what it termed as “uncomfortable” signals to the United States just before a summit between the two nations’ leaders that is scheduled to take place next month. In fact, according to CNBC, Russia stated that it was in the process of the increasing military along its western border. This decision was announced just a day after U.S. President Joe Biden stated that he would question Russian President Vladimir Putin on Russia’s human rights abuses and urges him to respect these rights when the two convene in Geneva on June 16th, 2021.
Diplomatic relations between Russia and the U.S. have been at a historic low since the Cold War. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Russia bears the majority responsibility for the decline of the two powers’ relationship. Russia has transformed into an authoritarian state under Putin’s presidency and, not to mention, is a rising global power that is beginning to challenge the U.S.’s hegemonic status, as noted by the Brookings. While the U.S. is both militarily and economically superior to Russia, the U.S.’s interests may be threatened by Russia’s ability to intervene around the world, fueled by its growing influence globally.
With that being said, considering both Russia and the United States are nuclear superpowers, they also have the responsibility and the ability to maintain peaceful relations between countries across the globe by negotiating ceasefires as well as dissuading other powers from using nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Additionally, as noted by Brookings, prevalent global challenges such as combatting terrorism, governing the Artic, and medical supply distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, require both countries to cooperate and work together efficiently. However, Brookings does note that the challenge for the two powers involves the willingness to cooperate while also competing with one another for global dominance.
This is especially challenging as Russian leaders say that the U.S. foreign policy has historically not taken into account factors such as Russia’s history, geography, culture, and security needs. Over the last couple of decades, all the U.S. administrations have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Russia and the U.S. by implementing policies that Russia views as infeasible. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one example that stands out is the U.S.’s constant attempts to reform Russia’s political system, despite the Kremlin making it clear that it will not uphold democracy in any part of Russia, as it interferes with the nation’s domestic stability.
According to the RIA news agency, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, was quoted as saying, “The Americans must assume that several signals from Moscow…will be uncomfortable for them, including in the coming days.” Furthermore, the RIA news agency reported that Ryabkov said that Russia would be prepared to respond to Biden’s questions regarding upholding human rights and their misuses in Russia, also stating that Moscow was willing to compromise more than Washington about constructing an agenda for the summit.
Currently, Russia’s ties with the U.S. are strained over the imprisonment of the Kremlin’s strongest critic Alexei Navalny. As stated by ABC News, Navalny has released multiple reports highlighting the corruption of Putin’s government and has been a central figure in mass protests such as the 2011-2012 demonstrations which were due to the reports of rigging a parliamentary election. According to CNBC, on Monday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the United States and the NATO transatlantic alliance have recently increased the supply of arms to the West of Russia, which required a response from Moscow. In fact, the Interfax news agency reported Shoigu as saying, “The actions of our Western colleagues are destroying the world’s security system and [will] force us to take adequate countermeasures.”
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