Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Putin Began New Cold War by Seizing Crimea but Only Now is It Taking Shape, Savvin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 22 – Most people assume that the Cold War began on a specific date either when Stalin began imposing regimes in portions of Eastern Europe the Red Army had occupied or when Winston Churchill delivered his speech in Fulton, Missouri, and spoke of the rise of an iron curtain dividing Europe.

            But in fact, Dimitry Savvin, the editor of the Riga-based conservative Russian nationalist Harbin portal, says, the first cold war did not emerge full blown all at once but rather took until at least 1949 to assume the shape that it is now remembered for (

            Something similar is happening again. Vladimir Putin really began the new cold war with his aggression against Ukraine and seizure of Crimea in 2014, the writer says; but the second edition of the cold war is taking final shape only now, seven years later, and in a form somewhat different from its namesake.

            The rise of Communist China, both because it is communist in its aspirations and because it has been relatively successful in its NEP-like promotion of capitalism, makes “a new cold war an objective necessity,” Savvin argues, given that the communist threat has not disappeared and the involvement of China within Western economies has become stronger and threatening.

            That is all the more so because since the US emerged victorious in the first cold war, it has been engaged in “a great imperial withdrawal,” no longer willing to promote its own version of democracy and “step by step ceding its positions” to countries like China and the Russian Federation willing to take more aggressive actions.

            The new cold war is not only objectively necessary but has already assumed two poles, but this time, one led by China rather than Russia and the other led again by the United States. But what has not yet occurred is the rethinking of how to conduct it given that each side has more thoroughly penetrated the other, meaning that there is a far larger “fifth column” in both.

            “The level of mutual and all-sided integration is now such that the border between foreign and domestic in essence is not absence. And each side has its rear ‘a fifth column,’ and battles since not too bloody will have to be conducted not only and even now so much on the former perimeter” as was the case in the first cold war “as at home.”

            The Soviet Union sought to use communist parties in this way in the first cold war, but they were far less influential and far easier for Western countries to counter than the new forces representing China and Russia in the second cold war, Savvin continues. And “this creates many new problems” for opposition groups in Russia too.

            They can no longer view the West as unified and supportive of them against their governments. Instead, the Russian opposition can see that many in the West, under the influence of the new and more influential fifth columns want to do business with Moscow and are no longer constrained by fears of being called “soft on communism.”

            The far right in both Europe and America have become the enemies of the opposition in Russia no less than the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China or the FSB of the Russian Federation, the conservative Russian commentator says. And the left in these countries is also playing a much more negative role now.

            But at the same time, Savvin argues, one must not forget that “besides the enemy in the rear, their exists one at the front, the coalition of neo-communist China and neo-Soviet regimes of the former USSR, together with their socialist allies and also a number of Islamist regimes and movement. And the struggle against them remains our first priority task.”

            And this struggle will be made more difficult because there has emerged again a group of countries in between who seek to benefit from the competition between the two poles of a cold war. These include both leaders in the east, like Tito in the times of the first cold war, and de Gaulle and Brandt in the West.

            According to Savvin, “today’s neo-Soviet Russian Federation and neo-communist China in principle have returned to that model of relations which existed between the USSR and the CPR between 1949 and 1956,” with integration again extremely high but with the relative positions of the two exchanged.

            In this new situation, Putin as leader of the Russian Federation is behaving simultaneously as a leader of one pole and as someone who wants to win benefits for himself by seeking to play China and the West off against each other, remaining allied with China but promising to help the West resist Beijing.

            That makes relations between the West and Russia far more fraught, with the risk that the West will make a deal with Russia that sacrifices its principles and its allies in eastern Europe in order to make use of Russia as an ally of sorts against China. And this is all the more likely because of domestic American policies.

            Increasingly, Savvin says, the American left wants to promote a kind of socio-cultural agenda which is alienating many in the conservative East European countries, leading them to behave in ways that will make it easier for Washington to sacrifice them to Russia rather than defend them against the Kremlin.

            Avoiding that disaster and thus a defeat in the second cold war requires that the West understand not only what is at stake but how Russia is behaving in this dual fashion and thus making it far harder to defeat China and Russia as well and also to see that America’s own domestic activists are promoting what earlier they had more consistently opposed.


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