After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s future has been perceived as shaky and volatile. A decade of economic unpredictability and an unpopular leader in Boris Yeltsin fueled this position.
Russia, after it’s tumultuous history had a dilemma on it’s hands: to return to it’s pre-Soviet, imperial days or merge into the Western order. Leaders, academics and public figures vigorously deliberated the path that the newly shrunken empire should take. Negative attitudes towards the West and more specifically the United States have presided over Yeltsin’s integrationist views, which were seen as traitorous among the Russian populace.
These issues came to a head in the 2000 election with Vladimir Putin being elected to the office of president of the Russian Federation. A long time Soviet loyalist during his time in the KGB, he’s known for his strong pro-Russian worldview. To America and the West, he’s perceived as being a hard-headed nationalist and bent on maintaining Russia’s separation and independence. These certainly aren’t biased opinions, as Putin has been very deliberate in his vision of Russia’s future.
In the last several years, Putin has cozied up to Islamic and Latin American nations, particularly those nations that are hostile or at odds with the United States. Iran, Venezuela and Syria are a few that the Russian leader has sought to create trade and political ties. News items and press reports regularly detail Russia’s growing influence in Eurasia and rogue nations of South America.
In late November of 2008, newly elected Russian president Dmitry Medvedev met with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. It was the first time a Russian leader had visited South America since Soviet times. Clearly, the Russians are advancing quickly to build influence in the world, in direct competition with the United States.
Rhetoric of a multi-polar world permeates Russian dialogue with the West. In a time when organizations when the United Nations seek ties between nations, and neo-conservatives in America demand benevolent hegemony, the Russians are seeking greater world influence. While some in the United States speak of another cold war, it’s likely too early to tell as to the true consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions. Predictions pervade periodicals and publications about America’s slow demise, if so, a more dangerous world will surely follow as the rest of the world scrambles for power. With our economic difficulties and unpopularity around the world due to our belligerent foreign policy, it’s only logical that rising nations would seek the embrace of the Russians.