While the American populace has been concerned with the newly announced candidates for the 2020 elections and the recent bout of media mistakes, the Russian Federation has been experiencing internal tragedies and worrying surrounding nations as it flexes its power. Why is this not a larger concern in the United States? The memory of the Soviet Union is not as distant as we would like to believe. Americans need to pay attention to current affairs in which Russia is involved.
In 2014, the Ukrainians had a revolution while under the rule of Viktor Yanukovych, who eventually left the country. Seemingly taking advantage of the unrest, Vladimir Putin’s Russia moved into Crimea, taking it from Ukraine. The international response was vastly critical of Russia and Putin, but he did not seem to care. The question begs to be asked, does Putin respect the sovereignty of any of the nations that were historically controlled by the Soviet Union? The answer, if no, should be deeply disconcerting. Russia is one of the most powerful nations in the world, and their capabilities cannot be underestimated.
Russia’s relationship with Ukraine has not strengthened. Even more recently, there have been attacks and unrest between the two nations. In November of 2018, three Ukrainian ships were attacked by Russian ships near the Kerch Strait. The United Nations Security Council met on November 26, 2018, and collectively disavowed the Russian aggression. Unsurprisingly, the spokesperson for the Russian Federation, Dmitry Polyanskiy, denied any wrongdoing by Russia and put the blame on Ukraine(“8410th Meeting, 13).
Why should this concern Americans? We have enough problems that we need to deal with. Adding a world superpower to the list of complications serves no benefits. Russia has shown that they do not care about sanctions placed on them. Polyanskiy said the following about taking control of Crimea: “No sanctions or restrictions will change our decision” (“8410th Meeting”, 13). Russia is no stranger to human rights violations either. Recently, the Russian government has been urged to examine cases of missing gay individuals in Chechnya, an area of Russia under control of Ramzan Kadyrov. The Guardian reported in 2017 that a Russian named Maxim Lapunov blamed officials in Chechnya for his unlawful captivity, during which time he was subjected to terrible assaults in attempts to find other gay men (Walker). Lapunov is not the only man to make such accusations.
Based on the evidence, it is clear that the Russian government does not necessarily place value on its people. It is clearly about a search for power. The meddling in our elections, regardless of whether it was consequential or not, should shock us. We could be witnessing an attempt by Russia to extend its power over more areas that it should not control. Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and other nations are all sovereign states that deserve to be free. Russia’s power plays are threats, and they should be counted as such.
President Trump needs to act more strictly to Vladimir Putin. The United States should attempt diplomacy first, but from past interactions, it is clear that the tactic will not always work. Condemning the problems that Russia does create is vitally necessary, as well as ensuring that we are close with our allies in case of a threatening dilemma. We also need to reassure the small countries that are near Russia and used to be under the control of the USSR that we are on their side. The analysis of relations of Russia with other countries that are not friendly with the United States, such as China and Iran, should also be prioritized. If we can somehow better our relationship with Russia, then so be it, and that should be a goal. We do, however, need to be ready to deal with any further aggression that is made.
“8410th Meeting”. United Nations Security Council, http://www.un.org/en/ga/
Walker, Shaun. “Victim of Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’ calls on Russia to investigate.” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/