WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- President Donald Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats this week over the nerve agent attack on a Russian double agent in England resembling President Ronald Reagan’s expulsion of 55 Soviet diplomats during the height of the Cold War in 1986.
- Western countries also expel Russian officials this week, prompting Russia to retaliate by expelling the same number of diplomats on Thursday.
- Measures made by different countries this week against Russia may have been a throwback that causes worry of an impending Cold War.
A lot has changed since the division of the Soviet Union. The United States and its allies are much stronger now. The rules of engagement between the U.S. and Russia are less clear. Those changes make the tensions between the two countries more volatile. Here are some changes that are happening presently which is not like the Cold War:
Hacking is more advanced
Russia is now using cyber tools for its propaganda to destabilize its enemies, unlike during the Cold War. Russia has an army of hackers who work with an overhauled propaganda apparatus, through Kremlin-operated media to influence elections in the U.S., Britain, Spain and other European countries.
President Trump and the U.S. Congress have not funded any agency to counter Russia’s new endeavors. U.S. intelligence agencies think Russia will continue meddling as the U.S. midterm elections approach.
Russia’s economy is now more dependent on the West
There was restricted trade between the Eastern Bloc and Western Europe during the Cold War. Presently, Russia is a top supplier of oil and gas to many Eastern and Western European counties.
Alina Polyakova, a Russia analyst at the Brookings Institution said: ”Russia is much more dependent on trade than the Soviet Union was. This gives the West more leverage over Russia than over the Soviet Union.”
Russia is smaller geographically than the Soviet Union was. The U.S is also stronger both diplomatically and militarily compared to Russia. Since the Soviet Union collapses, many of the countries it relied on during the Cold War pulled away and either joined NATO or the European Union or both.
No clear set of rules now
During the Cold War, pilots from the U.S. and the Soviet Union normally would keep a respectful distance to prevent any trigger of a nuclear confrontation. Now, Russian military pilots often “buzz U.S. warships and planes flashing their array of missiles.”
Both countries responded to each other in a measured manner when there were diplomatic rifts during the Cold War.
In 2016, when Obama expelled 35 diplomats as a response to Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election, Putin retaliated by kicking out 755 U.S. diplomats.
“Now the Russians seem to overcompensate with their retaliation,” Polyakova said. “There’s no clear set of rules anymore.”
Source: USA Today