Natalia Bubnova. Confrontation between Russia and the West and Prospects of the ‘New Cold War’

Almanac 2016. Russia's global environment



The exacerbation of tensions between Russia and the West resembles the cold war period in that it encom- passes all spheres: politics, economy, and information. The confrontation was not inevitable but the result of political mistakes and does not serve anyone's interests all the while augmenting politico-military and economic risks for all. The resolution of the stand-off should be sought through negotiations and engage- ment, not sanctions, saber-rattling or information war. Russia’s operation in Syria – which had among its goals to change the agenda and build bridges with the West – has managed to make western political and military leaders speak to their Russian counterparts. Yet their interaction on Syria, though definitely needed if only to prevent getting unnecessarily in each other’s way in that country, will not be sufficient as a game changer unless Russia succeeds in changing the perception of itself as an expansionist country. The resolution of the Ukrainian crisis remains a key prerequisite in overcoming the cold confrontation with the West. The settlement of the Ukrainian crisis must be based on a rigorous implementation of the Minsk Agreements, irreversible discontinuation of military activities in Eastern Ukraine, and guarantees of the country’s territorial integrity and non-aligned status. The confrontation and information war in Russia’s relations with the West should give way to a coordinated effort to prevent the economic collapse in Ukraine and foster its future development. Moreover, both Russia and the West need to develop a comprehensive long-term strategy of mutual engagement focused on joint efforts to overcome international challenges and together seek resolution of global problems whether it is ending the Ukrainian crisis, finding a way out of the civil war in Syria or more broadly, upholding international institutions and international law, build- ing an inclusive security environment in the Euro-Atlantic region and cooperating in Asia-Pacific, over- coming global terrorism and cyber-threats, preventing nuclear proliferation and the weaponization of space, effectively dealing with global climate change, disease and hunger, and ensuring sustainable devel- opment of the world’s poorest regions.


Cold War; U.S.-Russia relations; information war; sanctions; Ukrainian crisis; Minsk agreements; Syria.

Authors: Natalia Bubnova

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