The rivalry between the United States and Russia has been age-old and infamous across the world since the times of the Cold War. However, the previous US President Donald Trump had taken a pragmatic approach to Russia, which had resulted in reducing US-Russia tensions. Then came President Biden. In the first month of his presidency, Biden, in an undiplomatic manner, called Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘killer’. Consequently, President Biden’s confrontational approach concerning Russia is creating newer conflict zones globally and pushing Russia closer to China.
Ukraine is one of the leading contentious issues between the United States and Russia. Recently, just after the fall of Kabul to Taliban, the Biden administration committed $60 million in new security aid to Ukraine and blamed Russia for tensions. Consequently, Russia raised concerns. The time at which the Biden administration took up the Ukraine issue was speculated to have been chosen to dilute public attention from the ‘Afghanistan failure’ for which President Biden faced heavy criticism.
Alongside the rise in tensions with Ukraine, Belarus also saw an upsurge in diplomatic clashes. The US-NATO against Russia rivalry has pitted Belarus against Lithuania, Poland and Estonia. With it, the European Union faces another looming migrant crisis.
Adding to the US-Russia rivalry is the blame game between the United Kingdom and Russia. Time and again, the UK has accused Russia of targeting it using cyberattacks and electronic warfare. Recently, London blamed Moscow for stealing its Covid vaccine formula. More recently, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has blamed Russia for having an interest in sowing discord in the UK. Wallace also said that Russia is keen to influence the Scottish independence narrative as Putin aims to break up the United Kingdom.
From Japan to Latin American…
Apart from the above issues, the US, UK and NATO have been clashing with Russia over matters like Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Europe, dislodging of the dictatorial regimes in Venezuela and Cuba, taking over military bases and winning nuclear contracts in the MENA region, especially in countries like Djibouti, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. and naval patrols near Japan.
One country which is deriving maximum advantage from all these disputes is China. Faced with Western opposition, Russia has sold some of its most sophisticated weapons to China to ‘create’ a geopolitical ally. Moscow and Beijing have also teamed up to achieve global dedollarization while inking billions of dollars of trade deals. Russia has even invited China for joint exploration of the Arctic and is already supplying vast amounts of oil and gas to its economy. It is thus clear that US pushing Russia to corner helps China, the same China who gave tacit support to Joe Biden during US presidential election.
The only sweet spot where the US and Russia have least clashed is India. A pointer to this fact is the proposed waiver to India over the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system, for which bipartisan support is growing stronger.
The recent warning by Russian President Vladimir Putin about his country’s new hypersonic nuclear missiles being capable of annihilating US cities has underlined the fact that Putin won’t take Biden’s ‘Russia policy’ lying down. With it, the confrontation between the two superpowers will only grow in time to come, which may ultimately benefit China.