Russia’s Show of Power against West
Russia’s nuclear show of power was in line with Putin’s attempts during recent years to use the power resources of this country in defense of the interests which Moscow has defined for itself. Although the Russians expected to be present in global equations as an equal partner following the collapse of the Soviet Union, they realized during the developments of the last two decades that the US has not accepted such a role for it. The US does not even recognize Russia’s special interests in the former Soviet republics. Therefore, what was reflected in the new military arrangements of Russia which was approved by Putin or the measures that are taken in Ukraine are, in fact, the continuation of policies and views which have evolved in the Kremlin during the last two decades.
The US and the big European countries caused Russian leaders to change their outlooks. Their behaviors, whether in the newly-formed republics or the issue of the expansion of NATO towards the East, have increased the suspicion and mistrust of Russian officials. What is obvious today is a fundamental change in Russia’s outlook with regard to its surrounding world and its relations with the western countries, particularly the US. Russians, who at one time did not consider NATO as a threat, now consider it as an enemy of Russia. This outlook has resulted from the experience of the last two decades following the collapse of the former Soviet Union which has caused Russian officials to consider using all sources of their power especially in the areas of strategic systems and nuclear weapons wherein they have superiority.
In fact, this development was founded in the mid 1990s, meaning the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, by Primakov. In 1995, he insisted that Russia must utilize all its leverages and capabilities to pursue its foreign policy objectives. Today, Putin is moving in the same direction and Russia’s nuclear show was intended to show the power of this country and its determination to defend the Kremlin’s interests. But these moves do not mean that the leaders of this country ignore their common interests with the West. As reflected in official Russian documents, they are well aware of the common interests and threats which bound Russia, US and Europe to cooperate. A clear example of this idea is their cooperation in resolving the nuclear issue related to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Furthermore, the threats posed by ISIS and the issue of the expansion of terrorism and radicalism are felt in Moscow as they are felt in Europe and the US due to the return of these radical groups to their countries. Therefore, Russia’s show of power does not negate other aspects of its foreign policy. Russia knows well that in order to defend its interests, it must observe all the rules of the game. While they pursue their interests through using all their existing leverages, they will not forget their cooperation in removing common threats and gaining common interests.