Reemergence of Russia as a superpower
By Musa Khan Jalalzai
Russia's resurgence as a strategic actor and a new cold war player is widely discussed in the United Kingdom and Asia. Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his presidency made unbelievable economic and military progress. In UK intellectual circle, the resurgence of Russia in the international arena is considered a big issue of the near future. Russia's new policy direction - and particularly its nascent interest in alternative energy - is important because Russia is such a large energy exporter.
The re-emergence of Russia on international arena and more importantly Putin's intellectual approach to developing a foreign policy, has presented an issue for the world to think about.
Russia under the leadership of President Putin outlined a new policy for central Asian region. President Medvedev has recently enunciated five principles of Russian foreign policy. A number of contradictions are built into them. Medvedev, unlike Putin, is more willing to try to implement changes in world policy. He believes there is a lot to change.
During his Presidency, Vladimir Putin took several actions indicating that the country plans to reclaim its position as a military power on a global scale. Russian bombers were back on long range patrols, and a submarine crew recently planted a Russian flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole. During the Putin years, Russian economy saw the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase 6 fold, climbing from 22nd to 11th largest in the world. In 2007, Russia's GDP exceeded that of 1990.
The trip of President Medvedev to the G20 summit is expected to deliver any breakthroughs on troubled U.S.-Russian relations, as little movement is likely before current U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office in January.
On the war in Georgia, US and European leaders immediately condemned Moscow for flouting established borders. The challenge facing the next US president will be to manage Russia's emerging role as a powerful and alluring alternative to the West.
'Russian leaders are trying to wield the language of stability, humanitarianism, and prosperity. If the rift between Russia and the West widens, it will not produce a repeat of the Cold War. Instead, it will create a new and delicate rivalry over the ability of each political system to explain its own inconsistencies to its citizens and the wider world. Military sources say, Russia has around 5700 active nuclear warheads. Poland will contain just 10 interceptor missiles. The most likely strategic purpose of the missile defense programme is to mop up any Russian or Chinese missiles which had not been destroyed during a pre-emptive US attack.
The politics of Missile defense has recently become one of the most acute problems of international politics. Plans by the United States to deploy a third position area in Eastern Europe for its national missile defense system triggered a sharp reaction from Russia, which threatened to take countermeasures.
Russia's strategic forces have conducted regular test launches of Soviet-built ballistic missiles to check their performance. The military has repeatedly extended the lifetime of Soviet-built weapons as the government lacks the funds to replace them quickly with new weapons. The basic factor of mutual distrust between Russia and US increased readiness of their strategic nuclear potentials in line with the task of mutual nuclear deterrence.
The U.S. is trying to convince Russia that the new missile defense system will not be directed against it. But Russia considers it as a military threat to its national defense. However, statements like this run counter to Washington's doctrinal approaches to its defense policy. Russia has repeatedly made it clear that Russia's territory allows for the building of a missile defense system with a structure that can best ward off missile threats from the south. A missile defense system can be effective only if it is capable of hitting a target at various phases of the trajectory of a missile or warhead.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in one of his statements rejected a Russian suggestion that both countries scrap plans to place missile systems in Eastern Europe. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a televised interview with French journalists broadcast that Moscow was willing to reconsider deploying Iskander missiles in its westernmost region of Kaliningrad if Washington did not place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a missile-tracking radar in the Czech Republic
Barack Obama, immediately, after his election as US President said it would be prudent to "explore the possibility of deploying missile defense systems in Europe," in light of what he called active efforts by Iran to develop ballistic missiles as well as nuclear weapons.
Russia remains one of the world's leading military powers. It is second only to the United States in nuclear weapons, and Russia remains the strongest power in Europe and Asia in terms of its conventional ground, air, and naval forces. For more than a decade, Russian leaders have struggled to formulate security and defense policies that protect Russia's borders and project Russia's influence.
After attaining broad macro economic stability and high growth likely to exceed both India and China in 2008 as per the IMF, the focus is now on using the oil windfall to build and modernize infrastructure and create an environment conducive to business, particularly the non commodities exports.
There are still many financial crises in Russia but debates are under way on the growing Russian economic power. Today practically all socio-political groups and blocs in Russia are discussing the country's future along with opportunities of economical growth, but are suggesting very different ways of solving existing problems. On the Russian political and military influence, Moscow-based military expert Vladimir Mukhin says Russia has lost much of its position in Central Asia since then. But Russia still has troops and bases in Central Asia in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and in Kazakhstan.
However, analysts in Tajikistan analysts say that merely strengthening its military presence in Central Asia doesn't necessarily mean Russia's influence there will rise. On November 11, Russian President began a working visit to Kazakhstan to discuss the security situation in the region. The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.