Sunday, November 16, 2014

Russia and the Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

We are pleased to share this guest post from Djenita Svinjar of Chicago: 

On November 9th, the world celebrated the 25th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This event is undoubtedly one of the most significant events in German, and world history, in commemorating the removal of the barrier that had divided a country between democracy and communism. Yet, the anniversary of this significant event seemed to be overshadowed by grave remarks made by former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev a mere day beforehand.

Gorbachev, who had been the president of the USSR until 1991 (notably the last leader of the Soviet Union), raised concerns about current Middle East issues and European conflicts. He specifically honed in on the Ukraine crisis, and Western countries and Russia casting the blame on the other party in "old ways" of thinking. However, Gorbachev attributed the blame to the US, stating that following the fall of the USSR, the US had taken part in "triumphalism" which contributed to the inability to cope with extreme international conflicts, as seen in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, and most recently, Ukraine. Gorbachev seems to fear that a new Cold War has already begun, with tensions at an all time high, and seems to be urging the US and Western powers to ease tensions by lifting sanctions on Russia and taking part in peaceful talks. However, one may question whether these acts, if undertaken, would serve any purpose?

Russia seems to be flaunting its military muscle and hardheaded thinking when it comes to NATO and Western powers. Most recently, the country snubbed UN support for the extension of the EURFOR military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was voted in by other members of the UN security council earlier this past Monday. Russia abstaining from voting for the extension was the first time in the 14 year installation of the program that a member declined to support it. It seems that Russia appears to be defying any possible control or part that Western powers have in Eastern Europe, particularly when considering that just last week, Great Britain and Germany undertook a new initiative (with US support) on Bosnia with hopes to progress EU membership, given that Bosnian politicians would sign on to, and support political reforms within the nation.

Sadly, Russia's ambivalence and defiance seem to shed some light on Gorbachev's warnings.

Djenita Svinjar

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