2nd JANUARY 2017
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA-RUSSIA
1. Cooperation between USA and Russia is vital for global peace. Elucidate highlighting past/present areas of cooperation and conflict.
- John Kerry, U.S Secretary of State, and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, met 14 times and spoke on the phone numerous times in 2016 as both countries sought to work together on some intractable global issues. The relationship between the two has been an extraordinary one, producing a range of outcomes. At one end of the spectrum is the Iranian nuclear deal that both Russia and America agree has capped the Shia regime’s nuclear capabilities. At the other end is the collapse to abyss of Syria, a bloody and grim reminder of the limits of their cooperation.
Expulsion of Russian diplomats:
- In December 2016, US President Barack Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S.
- In July 2016, U.S newspaper reports — citing anonymous intelligence sources — accused Russia of trying to influence the outcome of the U.S presidential election. The reports said hackers working for the Russian government obtained the emails of Democratic Party functionaries, which were published by WikiLeaks.
- The Russian diplomats were given 72 hours to leave. A special Russian plane flew them out from Washington.
- Russia believes that the “well-orchestrated campaign to accuse Russia of interference in the presidential election in the United States was designed to whip up anti-Russia sentiments”.
Syria ceasefire attempts:
- The collapse of a ceasefire that Russia and America sought to enforce in Syria, once in February 2016 and again in September 2016, before the current deal among Iran, Turkey and Russia began taking shape.
- The September 2016 ceasefire plan was to have a Joint Implementation Centre of Russia and America that would have coordinated a military campaign against identified jihadi groups.
- The February ceasefire lasted for a few days; the September one could not even begin.
- Russia and the U.S accused each other of being responsible for the collapse of the ceasefire.
Georgia in 2008
Russia and the U.S. fighting a proxy war in Ukraine
Putin abandoned a key nuclear disarmament treaty with Washington, demanding the removal of sanctions on Moscow
The suspension of Russia from the G8
Aggressive U.S. policy:
- Russia believes that its relationship with the U.S. “was complicated by an aggressive US policy of systemic containment of Russia, which included the build-up of sanctions pressure, the deployment of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) components and provocative military activities on Russia’s western borders and in the Black Sea”.
Russia, number one enemy of U.S.:
- With its continuing military aggression on the border of NATO, Russia qualified to be considered enemy by the U.S.
- In Warsaw in July 2016, the last NATO summit during the Obama regime, resolved that the alliance has to deal with two distinct threats — on the east from Russia, and on the south and southeast from Islamist groups.
- On Russia, there is a remarkable convergence between the Republican and Democratic security establishments. Mr. Obama appears to have come around to his 2012 opponent Mitt Romney’s view — which he then contested — that Russia is the U.S’s “number one geopolitical foe”.
Trump’s global perspective
- Mr. Trump believes that NATO has to repurpose itself and focus on fighting Islamist threats.
- Addressing the UN in September 2015, Mr. Putin called for a “genuinely broad alliance against terrorism, just like the one against Hitler”, and Mr. Trump is in complete agreement with this position.
- An unstated, but equally important reason that Mr. Trump is seeking a partnership with Russia is China.
- Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he would scrap the Iranian nuclear deal. Mr. Putin, meanwhile, has been using Pakistan and Iran to strengthen Russia’s contacts with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- If Mr. Trump manages to reset America’s ties with Russia — which was attempted by the Obama administration with limited success — it could trigger a cascade of geostrategic realignments across the world.
The Iran nuclear deal shows that even the most complex international issues could be resolved if Russia and the U.S. work together with creative diplomacy.