Why Russia and the West Cannot Dump Each Other Over Ukraine
Published: July 24, 2014 (Issue # 1821)
As the initial shock over the Malaysia Airlines plane disaster in Ukraine subsides, the governments of Russia and the U.S. appear to be adopting a more conciliatory rhetoric toward each other, demonstrating the constraints that drive their foreign policies.
While the U.S. attempted to consolidate all major Western powers in an attempt to isolate Russia, all the individual states have their own economic and political interests at stake that they were ultimately unwilling to sacrifice for the common goal, pundits said Wednesday.
"The anti-Russian rhetoric is only a cover directed at the internal public in these countries. At the core there are tangible interests that ultimately drive foreign policy," said Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev-based Center of Political Studies and Conflictology.
"All parties have already got public opinion at home into the shape that they desired. This goal is fulfilled and now they need to see how they will cooperate with Russia in the new situation," he said in a phone interview from Kiev.
Russia and the West are locked in mutual cooperation in resolving Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. largely depends on Russia for moving troops and military equipment away from Afghanistan through NATO's northern distribution network and transportation hub in the Russian city of Ulyanovsk, and also for maintaining security in Central Asia.
In addition, according to many analysts, Russia's participation is essential in international efforts to resolve the ongoing war in Syria and the most recent wave of violence in Iraq.
Russia and Europe's bilateral trade was worth more than $400 billion in 2012, according to EU figures.
About 6,000 German companies do business in Russia, while the jobs of 350,000 German workers depend on Russian trade, according to the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, an organization representing Germany's main business lobbies.
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