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The New Cold War

Published: April 4, 2014 (Issue # 1804)


Russia and the West entered February surrounded by uncertainty — frustrated and angry with the other side but still ready to explore an admittedly fraught path forward. They exited March unexpectedly locked in a new cold war, the ambiguity gone, and the other side transformed into an undisputed adversary with plans underway to deal with it as such. Russian aggression sent them reeling into this other world, but over the years they had prepared the way together.

The new cold war will be different from the original. It will be a cold war between Russia and the West, not a global affair, though it will profoundly affect the entire international political system. It will not have the last one's ideological impulse, although the political animus now congealing will substitute. And it — let's hope — will not play out under the dense shadow of nuclear Armageddon.

Some will add that, unlike the original Cold War, it also will not really matter, given Russia's fundamental weaknesses and relative insignificance compared with a surging China and the scale of other challenges facing the U.S.

They are wrong.

Dealing with the ­Russia-West relationship in fundamentally adversarial terms will contaminate nearly every critical dimension of international politics, seriously warp U.S. and Russian foreign policy and exact a heavy price in lost opportunities.

Rather than redefine NATO to better address new security challenges, the old NATO will be reinforced and pressed closer to Russia's borders. Despite its economic limitations, Russia will answer in kind. Defense planning in Washington and Moscow, which were both in the process of adjusting to more modern, 21st-century threats with diminished resources, will come under irresistible pressure to spend on old threats that are driven by fears copied from the original Cold War.

Any thought of salvaging a crumbling arms control regime in Europe, reducing tactical nuclear weapons, cooperating on missile defense or taking the next steps in controlling strategic nuclear weapons — let alone, the first steps toward managing an increasingly unstable multipolar nuclear world — now becomes pure fantasy.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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