Posted by Joshua on Friday, January 12th, 2007
As Russia becomes ever richer and more powerful on the world stage, it is slipping back into its old role of antagonist to the US, much as it did during the Cold War. Those who thought the Cold War were over with the collapse of Communism were wrong – or, at least, partially wrong. The Great Game of Asia began in the 19th century, long before the Cold War, which was, in effect, only the new, post-World War II name given to the struggle for mastery of Middle East between Russia and England that began with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. When Washington took London's place in this battle, it renamed the balance of power jousting: "the Cold War." Following the collapse of communism, many hoped that a new age had dawned in which the US would remain the single super power for many decades. But just as Russian upheaval at the time of the Communist Revolution in 1917 led to a temporary retreat from European and Middle Eastern affairs, so did the Russian upheaval following the collapse of Communism. Enduring, however, were the larger issues of balance of power. As the Russian form of state reconsolidates as an authoritarian regime, it is also adding a new ideological hue to the struggle for dominance in the Middle East, by siding with the enemies of the US and defending fellow authoritarian regimes in the region which refuse to adopt Washington's language of "democratic reform." Here are a few recent stories on how Russia is positioning itself.
Washington is taking revenge on Russia for its energetic efforts to fill in the vacuum created by the U.S. sanctions, notably in Venezuela. Rosoboronexport is supplying Kalashnikov guns, Su-30MK Flanker-C fighters and other arms and military equipment worth $3 billion to Venezuela. It has military contracts worth $9.7 billion with Syria stipulating the supplies of antitank and anti-air systems, and is supplying Tor-M1 and mobile army air defense missile systems to Iran.
The State Department's sanctions cannot force the Kremlin to terminate these lucrative deals. Ivanov is right in that the Kremlin, Rosoboronexport and its partners have not violated any international laws or rules. They are not supplying arms to conflict zones or selling arms to warring sides. Moreover, they are trading only with U.N.-recognized states and their legitimate governments, rather than with individual firms and organizations.
Russia is now ready to approve the export of the Iskander-E (SS-26 Stone in NATO nomenclature) medium-range rocket to Syria. It has a range of 280 kilometers and multiple warheads. This is a not-so-friendly warning to both EU and the United States that Russia is back in the Middle Eastern game of nations — opposed to Western interests.
Russia Backs Syria in Probe Request: By: Nicholas Kralev | The Washington Times
A rift has developed between Russia and the Western members of the U.N. Security Council over the probe into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri nearly two years after he died in a car blast.
In a December 20, 2006 op-ed in the Syrian government daily Teshreen, columnist Issam Dari wrote that the uni-polar world order that the U.S. has sought to impose upon the world is a thing of the past, and that today Russia is playing a role no less important than that of the U.S. in promoting world peace and security.