Global Politics

The US and Russia

(Why is Kosovo's declaration of independence such a point of contention between the US and Russia?) Russia has had its own problems with separatist movements, especially in Chechnya and in the north Caucuses. So Russia is on delicate ground here in supporting separatists in Georgia and Moldova. So Putin has been complaining about Kosovo and linking it with these other situations, which is risky, because Russia is the last country that would want to create the sense that independence movements are going to receive wide approval. (When you hear some of the rhetoric coming from both sides, are there echoes of the Cold War?) There's not a return to the Cold War, because Russia just isn't the Soviet Union. Russia's strength comes from its energy resources, Russia is the largest producer of natural gas and in Europe that means a lot, those countries are highly dependent on Russia. And Russia has been using that leverage to buy up pipelines. (But why does this play into the old Cold War rivalry between the US and Russia?) Because the control of these energy resources is under a state controlled agency, Gazprom. Gazprom seeks to exploit its monopoly leverage so in the future it can charge exorbitant prices. That's being pursued in part because Europe is so dependent on Gazprom. (On any score does Russia present a threat to the US?) Absolutely. In energy in Western Europe, Russia is a threat. Beyond that Georgia and Ukraine have sought close ties with the US and even NATO membership and so Russia creates the potential for conflict there.