The Russian Spy ring report has dug up some skeletons from the Cold War grave. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has assured everyone that despite Russia’s misadventure and increased spying habits, there will be no change in US relations with Russia.
Russia has however not responded adequately about why it continues to spy and harbor Cold War hostility. One explanation is the traditional Russian mindset that holds on to the past as opposed to the more progressive American policies that want to move beyond the Cold War hostilities. Russia’s policy of holding on to Cold War sentiments is bad news for the US and for the world and yet it could be a major indication that the US has to be more cautious and calculative about their approach towards possible Russian cooperation.
Former Russian President Putin has continued to blame the US for destabilising the world and warned against possible attacks on Iran and was quite determined to maintain some form of pressure on the US. This tone has recently softened and Putin now hopes that arrests of Russian spies won’t affect the US-Russia ties to any significant extent. Putin has in fact blamed the US law enforcement agencies suggesting that they got ‘carried away’ and have been unnecessarily putting people in jail. The Russian officials have also turned around the blame towards the US claiming that the arrests are ‘baggage of the Cold War’.
The Spy ring was possibly an attempt to know US plans on Iran or general US foreign policy towards Russia. Russia likes to maintain a spying culture and its eyes on the US as this seems to give it a sense of political security. This only exposes the extreme suspicion that Russia seems to suffer from and a general lack of trust in any US motive. It also exposes a basic insecurity in the Russians about American motives.
The US continues to look towards a progressive and friendly relation with Russia and recent spy arrests would be quite an obstacle to these efforts. Russia should make sure that this spying culture stops and that there is some genuine effort towards open and direct confrontation on differences and clear directions towards reconciliation and cooperation.
Russia exercises unwarranted caution and suspicion in its foreign policy and its approach towards the traditional enemy US is still very measured and marked by suspicion. It is also possible that Russia simply cannot uproot its former KGB traditions and its political security is dependent on confidential information as obtained from other nations.
Russia stands as the bridge between the East and the West considering both its location and political position and its close alliance with China, Iran and other politically significant nations. Russia’s role as a global negotiator in the next century would also be significant. The US is and will continue to remain a major global player in international affairs. Russia has to build the trust of the US and thus has to move beyond the Cold War and focus on a more constructive and open relation with the US. The diplomatic and economic ties between Russia and US should not be hampered with unnecessary undercover investigation or espionage attempts.
The traditional focus on spying as was the hallmark of the former USSR should be abandoned and the extensive spying networks which Russia continues to maintain should be dismantled for a more inclusive, open and progressive foreign policy. Russia also has to increase its trust levels not only for better relations with the US but also for improved relations with other nations.