Russia has had a complex relationship with the US for many decades. The two nations are nuclear-armed super powers that compete for global domination although America has the greatest influence in current global affairs. As the longest-serving President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has played a vital role in the transformation of his country and is responsible for the evolving correlation with the US government. His personality, policies, decisions, indecisions, and choices have affected numerous world events. A careful examination of his life is an integral step in understanding these transitions. Putin’s ambition for reclaiming Russia’s superior role in global affairs is responsible for the toxic relationship with the US.
Vladimir Putin is a former KGB officer who rose up the ranks to become Russia’s president. He is on record as having derided his country’s disintegration from the greater and much-feared USSR. His campaign rhetoric and presidential policies are anchored on stoking nationalistic fervor amongst the populace to rally fanatical support for his interventionist plans over other sovereign nations. For example, his 2014 annexation of Crimea and Ukraine alike in total disregard of warnings from the US and other countries indicates his willingness to bully Russia’s myopic interests for the sake of achieving power (Fandos, 2017). This mindset forms the basis of his provocative approach, especially towards the US because he loathes the lofty position that America holds in world affairs. It also indicates that Putin is a great mobilizer of the masses because most of the citizens were supportive of the invasions.
Amnesty International cites Russia as one of the countries with minimal personal and media freedoms. In fact, scores of journalists have been murdered for questioning certain aspects of the Kremlin’s behavior. Putin’s leadership exerts great control over the mass and electronic media by clamping down on all forms of dissent. For instance, the Committee to Protect Journalists reveals that hundreds of such people are jailed, tortured and even killed by the state. Such oppressive policies are engineered to maintain Putin’s narrative of local and global events. It is in stark contrast to the much-acclaimed environment of free speech that is practiced in America. Such dictatorial tendencies are an indictment of his leadership styles which facilitates authoritarian tactics rather than the US-led proposal for democracy. It is however notable that the Russian society has ingeniously circumvented the state’s grip on media freedoms and used avenues such as social media to voice their concerns (Hill & Gaddy, 2015). Protests and marches are becoming more common in cities such as St. Petersburg, which implies that power blurs one’s character and suppresses people’s feelings, but after a certain period, a strong backlash will erupt.
The United States of America advocates for a free market economy while Russia, under Putin, is content with communism. The latter has aggressively pursued the privatization of public institutions to the detriment of the ordinary citizens because such ventures only benefit a few oligarchs. America’s economic approach has aided in the creation of a safety net for millions of people who acknowledge that with more hard work and the right skills, the American Dream is achievable. In fact, it has exported this mentality to other nations, which make it a bitter Russian rival because Putin intends to convert such countries into his ideology. This rivalry has sometimes escalated into the application of economic sanctions for Russia.
Vladimir Putin loves attention and reverence, both at home and abroad. His ambitious philosophy of being a “ruler” over a large portion of the global landscape has propelled him into helping other authoritarian regimes with finances and weapons to fight proxy wars. For instance, Russia aided in the expansion of the Syrian War by providing Bashar al Assad’s government with soldiers, weapons, and cash. It used its UN veto power to defy several member states’ opposition to such moves, leading to millions of deaths, rising cases of hunger, huge displacements of people and contributed to the growth of instability in the Middle East. Such “bulldozer” tactics are conspicuously different to the US foreign policy initiatives. America believes in equality and emphasizes the promotion of human rights as a basis for partnership in trade and security issues with other countries (Smith, 2013). It also weighs the moral justification for involvement in any conflict and always seeks the creation of a broader coalition before intervening. Vladimir Putin is therefore an impulsive leader who makes rash decisions that suit his global domination agenda irrespective of their consequences to world affairs.
Putin has used local and international platforms to attack the American culture and foreign government policies strategically to weaken its standing. His oratorical skills are exemplary and occasional antics such as going hunting while bare-chested interesting but the lack of historical facts in some of his utterances reveals his penchant for deception. Numerous hacking allegations have been made against the Russian state, including the recent 2016 US election. Such data breaches and dissemination of fake news have become a potent weapon in the Information Age and have reached alarming levels to warrant their categorization as national security threats (Fandos, 2017). These cold war style programs undermine the US ability to protect its citizens and rival its global position.
The United States should use diplomatic means to resolve the divergent issues that have been a source of conflict with Putin’s Russia. It is, however, necessary for the president to use subtle threats against Putin because he has shown an indifference to peaceful methods of conflict-resolution. For instance, harsher economic sanctions would isolate the nation from trading with others, making it unable to spur prosperity for its citizens. Such an outcome would foment further opposition to his regime and an eventual uprising that would get rid of him. It would also be prudent to secure more military cooperation and bases with countries neighboring Russia. Heavy and lethal equipment should be stocked in such camps, and heightened military exercises conducted continuously to act as a warning of America’s readiness to strike Russia at a moment’s notice. This show of might will act as deterrence from the pursuit of more aggressive initiatives by Putin because he would feel caged. His country would be starved of cash and surrounded by a contingent of a trigger-happy international force. Putin would have no choice but to seek peaceful and democratic systems of governance that recognizes the need for respecting human rights, both at home and abroad. Intensive persuasion of powerful Russian allies such as China to influence the realization of these goals would be vital too. The US should use its military might, moral authority and international social capital to leash Putin for a better world.
Fandos, N. (2017, January 7). Trump Calls for a closer relationship between US and Russia. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/07/us/politics/donald-trump-russia-united-states.html
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Hill, F., & Gaddy, C. G. (2015). Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Smith, M. A. (2013). Power in the Changing Global Order: The US, Russia and China. Oxford: Wiley.Bottom of Form
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