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United States-Russian relations worsen

By Denebola
Published: March 2008

By David Gabriel

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, it appeared that relations between the United States and the newly named Russian Federation would finally stabilize. In this modern era, however, the US and Russia have once again found themselves at odds.
Recent issues, including US support of the newly independent region of Kosovo and a US proposed missile shield over Europe to be based in the Czech Republic and Poland, have only increased tensions.
The proposed missile shield that the United States hopes to construct includes a radar system and interceptor missiles that could be used against Iran, an American adversary and one of Russia’s close allies in the Middle East.
The United States fears that Iran may launch a rocket at Israel in response to a US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, and the hope is that the shield would prevent such an attack.
While the United States has not had official diplomatic relations with Iran since its revolution in 1979, Russia has actively supported and cooperated with the Iranian government since 1992. Iran is an enemy of the United States due to its suspected ties with terrorism, the insurgency in Iraq, and Iranian opposition to the Israeli state. In recent months, Russia has provided nuclear fuel for a nuclear power program that the US fears will be used for weapons.
Furthermore, Iran has amassed a stockpile of Russian anti-aircraft missiles as well as mobile surface-to-air missile defense systems.
The transactions between Russia and Iran have met US criticism, but the US arms deals with Israel and Colombia have weakened Washington’s argument, allowing Moscow to argue that US opposition to Russian arms deals is hypocritical.
One flashpoint of tension between the US and Russia is the proposed missile shield, which draws consistent and severe criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some analysts fear that the missile defense program will create a sharp division in Europe, forcing the nations that house the shields to “pick sides in a US-Russia conflict, and igniting a new “Cold War-style clash between the Kremlin and the White House.
Such missile shields exist already in the western United States, Australia, and Israel. Russia, in response to the missile defense system, has withdrawn from two Cold War-era treaties, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.
Russia has also resumed long-range patrols by its bomber planes, which can carry conventional or nuclear weapons, for the first time since the end of the Cold War.
Putin has declared that this move was a response to the threat that other nations pose to Russia, not to a threat, real or perceived, from the United States.
In the past few months, Russia breached Norwegian airspace twice and once almost breached British airspace, prompting interception from NATO fighter jets. Britain described the Russian near-breach as the British Royal Air Force’s “biggest operation carried out to protect British airspace since the Cold War. Even more threatening for the US, Russian planes flew at low altitudes over the USS Nimitz, the United States’ lead aircraft carrier, last month.
Russia has also strengthened its support for Serbia in response to Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the ensuing US declaration of support. The Russian foreign ministry accused the United States of “flagrant cynicism in recognizing Kosovo’s independence, and Serbia signed an oil deal with Russia in a series of treaties ensuring strong relations between Russia and Serbia.
The relationship between Russia and the US can only be characterized as hostile and increasingly reminiscent of the Cold War.
The zealous leaders of the two nations continue to
deepen the tension.
Even if the US builds the missile shield and Kosovo is
eventually recognized by the UN, these will both be pyrrhic victories for the US, for they will have worsened US relations with Russia to such an extent that it will take years of reconciliation between both sides for the wounds to be healed’€years that the United States and Russia may never have.

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