Crimea Has Defeated Cold War Thinking – Expert

MOSCOW, April 1 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova – The Crimean situation has put an end to Cold War stereotypes, a Russian political expert believes.

“Crimea joining Russia renders [Cold War thinking] obsolete. The peninsula’s position provides control over the Black Sea and Ukraine,” said Kirill Koktysh, a political scientist at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

The real US motives behind the Ukrainian situation are not clear, the associate professor told RIA Novosti.

“The US could establish its position on Cold War stereotypes or arguments of the legitimacy of world order, or the economy. Each country has plenty of tools to declare any political result either a success or a failure, especially when it’s not obvious or clear,” he said.

The current crisis in Ukraine is one of America’s largest geopolitical failures, says another Russian foreign affairs expert, Aleksey Pilko, the director of the Eurasian Communication Centre and an associate professor at Moscow State University.

“The crisis did not result in Ukraine’s integration in the EU or NATO, but in a national crisis of identity and Crimea joining Russia,” Pilko said.

The expert stressed that the US government’s desire to live with the realities of the 1990s and its unwillingness to give up the illusion of victory in the Cold War are at the root of Washington’s geopolitical failures.

“This illusion has been dominating US political discourse for over a quarter of a century and this is why President Barack Obama called Russia a weak regional power,” Pilko believes.

The United States has failed in other regions, too, including an attempt to expand its military presence in Central Asia, to arrange a military intervention in Syria, and the interventions in Iraq and Libya.

“Washington demonstrates its power by hammering a new ‘world villain’ drawn from the group of small states with its entire military might from time to time,” Pilko said. “Such an aggressive policy by the American political elite is based on the fact they don’t perceive the world as it is, and this hurts the US most of all,” he added.

Experts agree that Washington’s understanding of its role and place in the world doesn’t coincide with reality, though it must change sooner or later. Yet the larger problem is that the crisis in Ukraine has revealed a new challenge – how to re-conceptualize the Yalta-Potsdam system of international relations that defined the rules of conduct for the two superpowers in the post-World War II era.

“This system saw seven exceptions – the dissolution of the USSR, the two Yugoslav wars, East Timor, the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the reunification of Germany and now Crimea. That’s too many for any system to work,” Koktysh said, adding the international community needs to decide how to live with these exceptions because over the last century the world has been teetering between the Versailles-Washington system – where a principle of national self-determination is paramount – and the Yalta-Potsdam system based on territorial integrity.

It is high time to merge these two systems to make the world safer. Reform of the United Nations and a modification of international law will became a major priority in the next few years, Koktysh believes.

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