The bombing of the World Trade Centre and the attack on Pentagon had set in motion several key paradigms shifts worldwide. Of the various changes that took place post 9/11, the change in US-Russia relations is a notable one. This article delves into the shift in perceptions and relations between the two countries.
Putin’s Reaction To 9/11
After the adversarial attitude of Russia and USA post-cold war, the 2002 US-Russia Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty paved the way for a shift from antagonistic relations to a cooperative one. The change in US-Russia relations was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the wake of the attacks on World trade Centre and Pentagon, President Vladimir Putin spoke to President Bush personally offering his condolences. He was the first leader of a foreign country to do so.
He also sent a telegram condemning the barbaric act and expressed his indignation and anger. He addressed the issue in national television claiming that the terrorism act went beyond the country’s borders and declared terrorism as the plague of the 21st century.
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Assuring Aid To Fight Terrorism
A week later Putin again addressed the issue on Russian national television stating that Russian Federation has been fighting international terrorism for many years and wanted the international agencies/institutions, especially UN Security Council and UN to join in the efforts.
He also specified the measures that Russia would undertake to help the US led war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The assistance offered include supply of intelligence related to location and infrastructure of terrorists and access to air space in Russian Federation for the planes with humanitarian cargo involved in anti-terrorist operation.
This assurance of aid marked a big shift in geopolitical perception of the Russian Federation. From the traditional mindset of controlling Eurasian region, Russia began its shift towards accepting American intrusion in the region. By allowing the establishment of military base by US and its allies in the region Russia revealed its willingness to cooperate and move forward towards a more cordial relationship with America.
Improved Relations Between Russia And USA
The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty emerged as a result of Putin’s stand on terrorism post 9/11. Two big changes happened as a result. The two countries signed the Rome Declaration that helped establish a NATO-Russia council that allowed Russia to have decision making power along with other NATO countries. The issues considered include War on terrorism, non-proliferation issue, and management during crisis. Later, Russia’s inclusion in G8 was confirmed in 2002 at Kananaskis Summit. However its position in G8 has been suspended since 2014 but efforts are being made to reinstate it again.
Changing Foreign Policy Of Russia
The sequence of events post 9/11 as orchestrated by President Putin indicated a change in the country’s foreign policy. The cooperation offered by Putin indicated the importance the president placed on Russia’s supportive stand. The move was also seen as Russia conceding to the demands placed by the US.
This acceptance of US demands by Russia has been in the works for some time prior to 9/11. The November 2000 declaration by the president on agreeing to discuss missile defenses with America and subsequent meetings between the two countries point to this shift in policy being planned by Russia for some time.
Russia had expressed its desire to reduce strategic forces and discuss the ABM treaty during the subsequent meetings. Without strategic forces reduction, Russia could not maintain its position as nuclear power and the avowal of support was a way for Russia to make the US agree to give Russia an illusionary nuclear parity, which was the only remaining sphere where Russia still maintained a strong influence.
Reinstating Russian Dominance Internationally
President Putin’s post 9/11 strategy had several targets. He used the situation to put forth his new foreign policy domestically in an effort to restore the country to its erstwhile position of power.
Putin realized that Russia needed the help of western countries, especially the USA for accomplishing his desire with financial cooperation and support.
While this may help to restore the country’s economy, it will also revive the military and give it a power equal to that of the US.
The US Perspective
The US had its own agenda in acquiescing to the Russian strategy. President Bush intended to use the bid to cooperation as a means to end the Cold War situation lingering between the two countries.
With the new development, Russia will cease to be a threat and become just one of the powerful countries in the world. Hence, the US treated Russia as a superpower by including it in G8 and other actions, heeding to the wishes of the Russian President.
Conclusion: National Interest To The Fore
Although at the outset, the post 9/11 events may seem to foster better relations between the US and Russia, in reality, both countries had their own agenda of serving the interests of their nation first. Further, their alliance is seen as an effort to curb the emergence of China as a reckoning force. Hence, although they have different objectives, they pose a united front to prevent China from usurping the supremacy they have maintained to date.