Russia’s Place in the ‘New’ Europe Created by the Fall of Communism

After a decade of uncertainty and ambiguity, the Russian politics had implemented rational plan for regaining the power and influence over the former satellites in the key parts of the Soviet Union. After taking charge in the year 1989, George H. W. Bush did not follow the policy as per the prior rule. Considering the fact, Svante (2009) stated that rapid changes had been observed in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern Europe. Bush had met with Gorbachev in the December 1989 for negotiating about the shifting toward a democratic reform and market oriented economy to the Soviet Union. However, Stephen (2009) indicated that Gorbachev’s decision had faced conflicting political pressure in the reform agenda of the destabilising of the communism. Although few problems have been faced by Gorbachev, Bush administration started work primarily as he had viewed that as more reliable partner to serve their economic and financial interest.

Along with the withdrawal of red army troop, Gorbachev agreed to reunification and acquiesced at the time newly reunited Germany mixed with NATO. Considering the fact, Judy (2008) stated that although positive steps were going on, few extra challenges to Moscow’s control had created pressure on the Gorbachev. At that time, communist party tried to retain their power to keep Soviet Union intact and uniform. In the January 1991, violence erupted in Latvia and in Lithuania. The basic causes of Soviet Collapse are stagnating economy, local nationalism, and lack of economic incentives. Furthermore, Vladimir (2009) cited that excessive military forces, reduced motivation fear and ethnic fragmentation and Afghanistan quagmire were another basic reason for the same.

Related to the population strength of Soviet Union, it was lacking from potential state planning. The main issue was that the economy became too large to manage by the state planners. Considering the fact, Christopher and Thomas (2009) identified that the leaders were unwilling to implement autonomy at the middle managerial level. It was done in order to remain responsive down to the localised level. This approach has resulted failing economic policies and the collapse had been occurred as the result of the same. Additionally, Afghanistan Quagmire was one of the important reasons of the Soviet Collapse. At that time, the Afghan government was threatened by number of anti-communist insurgents and it grew to outnumbering of the army of Afghanistan.

At that time USSR supplied lump sum amount of war machines and this support has been transformed into the invasive occupation of the cities and towns. Supporting to this fact, Andriy (2006) stated that this support had made Soviets down into ferocious and the whole Afghanistan had become resistant to the movement initiated by the government. Moreover, during this phase, no concrete solution had been gained and the USSR was left damaged and very much humiliated. On the other hand, Kuzio (2006) cited that “Perestrika” was occurred which could be treated as another vital issue of the collapse of Soviet Union. It was enacted by Gorbachev in the year 1987 which was attempted to reverse the economy of the Soviet Union.

The government was implemented “Free market” policies that were not enough to create business success and due to this the approach was failed that had created the collapse of Soviet Union. However, “Glasnost” was another major issue for the collapse of Soviet Union. Although the government was secretive, Gorbachev attempted to make compensation by making open commitments to the media in order to create transparency. On the other hand, this approach did not last long and failed into the social and health of the nations as well as it had hampered the national economy a lot. As cited by Kuzio (2010), all these incidents had made the public ready to create nationalism and creating independence ambitions in republics. It was acting as another major reason of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The role of economic downturn cannot be ignored and it had played significant role creating the collapse of Soviet Union. Also, the lack of economic incentives also reduced the innovation encouragement as well as the overall productivity of the nation. Apart from this, excessive military focus also created the path of collapse of the Soviet Union and it had created chaotic situation across the countries. The USSR was majorly focused on the military norms and it had neglected performing domestic needs which was another vital reason of breaking down of Soviet Union (Kuzio, 2010). Additionally, the role of reduced motivation of fear played a role to this disaster. Finally, friendlier relations with the United States had made the people able not to respond with respect to the political and economic threat executed by the leaders.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was created in the year 1949 by the United States, Canada and several other Western European Nations aiming to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. The NATO was the first peacetime military alliance the United States entered into the contract. Kuzio (2004) cited that outside the Western hemisphere, it was the first military alliance. In this alliance, the United States was considered as economically strong and rearmed. On the other hand, Kuzio (2010) identified that the Integrated Europe was treated as vital preventing communist expansion across the continent. The resulting European Recovery Program was known as “Marshall Plan” which had not only facilitated economic integration of the Europe, but it had also promoted the idea of sharing cooperation and interest between the US and Europe. The Soviet refusal either to allow satellite states in the eastern Europe for accepting the assistance helping to reinforce the growing sections exists between the eastern and western Europe.

Furthermore, Kuzio (2008) mentioned that a serious of events caused in the satellite states of Western Europe about the political security and the physical security.  It had been done aiming to make the US closely involved with the European affairs. In the year of 1945, after the World War II, the Soviet Union and the Western alliance perused aggressive policies and it has provoked strong Western reaction. As cited by Freizer (2014), before the year 1945, Stalin had helped launching an ideological campaign demonstrating the utility of socialism over the capitalism in the fields. This campaign had attacked writers, composers, economists, scientists, historians and others who have manifested the influence of Western zone. After the formation of NATO, it had been promised that the West could not receive any advantage from the retreat for incorporating its satellites into NATO. Stalin sought to make buffer zone in the East European countries most of which were occupied by the Red Army. During this phase, it has been observed that the advantage of military occupation was received by those countries. However, the power dominance of Soviet Union started reducing and the economic dominance was found much more to the US. Guardian (2014) mentioned that the Soviet Union forbade those countries and it had been dominated from participating in the programme. Furthermore, the Marshall plan started reducing Soviet influence in the other Western European Nations. Not only this, Soviet efforts for acquiring Turkish territory and establishing communist government in the Greece were also blocked at the time US extended the military and economic support to those countries. Considering the fact, Young (1991) stated that the whole processes were done under the Truman Doctrine in the year 1947. The overall process had negatively influenced the dominance position of the Soviet Union after the formation of the alliance such as NATO. Furthermore, the British and American support was diplomatic for the Iran (Benson, 2004). In the year of 1946 it had forced Soviet Union withdrawing troops from the north-eastern part of those countries.

According to Guriev (2014), at that time higher diversity in the populations was observed. Furthermore, the diversity had been observed within the resources and in the religions. Not only this, the energy sources had also become the sources of creating basic conflicts which had created ethnic turbulence into the regions. The tensions between the US and the Soviet Union became specially stressed over the problem issues of Germany. In this context, Sakwa (1999) stated that the Post Dam Conference of the August 1945 had made the decision to divide Germany with the city Berlin into the areas of occupation. This initiative was considered active until Germany establishes central government disagreements between the Soviet Union and the Western regions. Not only this, in the year 1948 the Soviet Union cut off the West which provided access to American, French and British areas of Berlin. It was done due to the retaliation for steps initiated and taken by the US and Britain to unite Germany. The fear reason of Soviet Union was due to the steps taken by British and US that had sponsored airlift for keeping the beleaguered sectors provisioned until the Soviet Union lifts up the blockade. Following the Berlin blockade, the Soviet Union and the West divided Germany into two countries. Out of these two, one was oriented to the East sector and another was oriented to the Western sector.

As a matter of fact, it was known that the USSR was larger entity than the Germany in terms of both geographic consideration and military strength. During this session, the belief of the Hitler stated that the country would collapse quickly and it would be after the brief show of German force. The German advance was also subdivided into three basic thrusts one is through the Baltic region and it was toward Leningrad. Second was through central Russia toward Moscow and the third one was to the south toward Kiev and the Black Sea coast. This planning had resulted in a front line which about 1000 miles long was having approximately 4 million soldiers out of which 3 million were German soldier.

The attack on the USSR started by the air and it was concentrated on the Russian frontline airbases. The basic reason of fear to Soviet Union was the initiatives of the German to destroy Soviet Union’s Air force. The German attack was begun on 22nd June and it had continued throughout the day. As mentioned by Sakwa (2008), most unfortunately Soviet Union had lost almost 1200-2000 air craft which was approximately quarter of the whole air force strength. Not only this, Soviet Union had lost additional 2000-3000 aircraft in that battle. It was a devastating set back and took lot of time to overcome that. Another reason of fearing was the power of the German forces at the time of the war which had advanced quickly across Russian country side. Considering the fact, Swain and Swain (1993) pointed that and it had captured major cities of north, central and south region of Soviet Union.  Additionally, the creation of the fear had been raised from past history when Stalin made several wrong decisions about the military leadership and weakened the ability of the country responding against German threat.  Although, massive destruction had been experienced, Russian forces did not give up and continued the fight by forming small partisan groups and destruction battalions. These battalions were sent behind the line of enemy for inferring with German fighters in numerous ways.

During this turbulence, Stalin made decision to implement “Scorched earth policy” aiming to destroy facilities and resources that might contribute minimal percentage to the German for attacking further.  Supporting to this fact, Crampton (1994) stated that at that time the Russians had destroyed roads and bridges, diminished many factories and burned fields or crops. Not only this, few major factories were also shifted into out of danger zone to conduct safe operation.  Within the days of invasion, Britain started supplying food and medical emerging things to the Russian in order to recover the process. Furthermore, they had served Russia by providing large number of tanks and aircrafts to the Soviet Union. All these issues created hindrance in the day to day life of the general public and created a fearsome behaviour within their mind.  The overall process had created large devastation in the Russian economy and that incident acted a source of fear to the same after the re unification with the Germany.

Most of the Ukrainians had been sourced on Russia and majority is assuming that Russia has a negative impact on the country and it is important for the Ukrainians to make strong tip up with European Union. Almost 43% of the Ukrainians stated that EU could be the better options while, only 18% stated that the relation with Russia can be prioritised. As cited by Walker (1994), only 27% of the Ukrainian population stated that they can have strong ties with both the EU and Russia. Basically, Ukrainians are divided in accordance with the evaluation of the influence of western nations and expressions of doubts have been made about German chancellor and the US president in the foreign affairs. On the contrary, White et al. (2009) mentioned that Russia recently have a positive power in the Crimea rather than EU and the US. 

When it comes to the Western Ukraine, most of the residents are found supportive to have ties with EU rather than Russia. Few basic conflicts are becoming more enduring and it might become the reason of creation of grievous consequences. Hence, the European and Russian economy will detach from each other. 5% Residents from the Western Ukraine stated that relations with Russia can be maintained. Eastern Ukrainians are divided where 21% stated good relations with EU are far important, while 30% stated that Russia could be better option. Furthermore, Guardian (2014) identified that 35% of the West stated that relationship with EU as well as Russia both are important. Younger Ukrainians are found voting more for the EU rather than the older people. During the year of 2009, the good influence of Russia was 46% of the total Ukrainians. Today, the opinion has been reversed as just 22% say Russia’s impact is positive as compared with the two third where the bad influence of Russia stands at 49% and the mostly bad stands at 18%. Considering the case of Crimea, it remains under the control of Russia. Few encouraging moves in the east of the Ukraine are found caused more by the internal concerns rather than by means of the actions of the West. Hence, a great bargaining is required to achieve bilateral climb down which would allow both the parties to serve face in order to unlock existing issues and problems. Russia’s actions in the Crimea show clear aggression and it would be mandatory for Russia to clarify the cause of annexation. The first step would be doing diplomatic position change that would produce better results. According to the collected reports of Organisation for Security and Cooperation, it is wrong assumption that peace would have endured in the Crimea with the non-existence of Russia. The peace of Crimea is found reducing and majority concerns that the entry of the Russia can be considered as vital reason behind the same.

Starting from the beginning, several fights and wars had taken place with respect to the power balance of each economy. Several political and economic judgements are coming presently regarding the power and the influence of Russia with Ukraine and in the Crimea with respect to EU and others. But, the prime focus would be on altering the power of Western region as it holds influential position in the global environment.  Analysing several past studies, it is clear that much of events that had occurred in the Eastern Europe happened because of lack of existence about the coherent strategy on the Western part. It is the time to collaborate and implement coherent vision of the future. It could become West’s best tool for shaping the present fragile world.

 

 

References:

Andriy, B. (2006) “Public Opinion on NATO and Ukrainian Accession to It”, National Security and Defence, 9, pp. 20-21

Benson, L. (2004), Yugoslavia: a Concise History (2e)

Christopher, S. C. and Thomas, R. (2009) “The Roots of Germany’s Russia policy”, Survival, 51(2), pp. 110

Crampton, R. J. (1994), Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Freizer, S. (2014) “Ukraine’s New President Must Begin Reforms Immediately. Poroshenko Must Partner With Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to Make Progress”, Atlantic Council, 2(3), pp. 31-32

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Guriev, S. (2014) “Corruption has laid waste to the Russian economy”, Financial Times, 22, pp. 34-36

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Kuzio, T. (2010) “What Signal Does Washington’s Arms Embargo against Georgia Tell us About US Policy to Ukraine?,” Jamestown Foundation blog,2, pp.15-18

Sakwa, R. (1999), The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991

Sakwa, R. (2008), Russian Politics and Society (4e)

Stephen, F. L. (2009) “The United States and Security in the Black Sea Region,” Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 9(3), pp. 308

Svante, E. C. (2009) “Pipeline Power: The War in Georgia and the Future of the Caucasian Energy Corridor,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 10(1) pp. 131-139

Swain, G. and Swain, N. (1993), Eastern Europe since 1945

Vladimir, S. (2009) “The Strategic Implications of Russian Move against Hungary’s MOL”, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 6(77), pp. 22

Walker, M. (1994), The Cold War and the Making of the Modern World

White, S., Richard, S. and Henry, E. H. (eds.) (2009) Developments in Russian Politics 7

Young, J. W. (1991), Cold War Europe, London: Arnold

 

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