News / Europe

Are US and Russia in New Cold War?

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2014.
Relations between the United States and Russia have hit a low point since Moscow annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.  Many analysts are wondering whether the two sides are returning to a new Cold War.

The “first” Cold War lasted roughly from the end of World War Two in 1945 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Charles Kupchan with Georgetown University, said the Cold War was a rivalry between a Western bloc led by the United States and an Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union.

“It was defined by ideological competition, a communist system versus a capitalist system, an autocratic system versus a democratic system,” he said.  “And it was defined by traditional geopolitical rivalry, for dominance both over the military industrial heartland as well as over proxies in the developing world.”

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, memories of the Cold War have faded.  But there is talk now of a new Cold War following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukraine’s peninsula, Crimea.

Obama says no cold war

During a recent speech in Brussels (March 26th), President Barack Obama dismissed the notion of a new Cold War.

“This is not another Cold War that we’re entering into.  After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology.”

President Obama also described Russia as “a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors - not out of strength, but of weakness.”

Charles Kupchan agreed, saying Russia isn’t what it used to be.

“During the Cold War, Russia had millions of soldiers under arms.  It had a world class navy.  It had proxy client states around the world.  That is not the Russia that we have today.  Russia today has 750 - 800,000 men under arms.  Its navy is a sad shadow of what it used to be,” said Kupchan.  “It has very few allies in the world and it’s for that reason, I think that a return to the Cold War is not on - Russia doesn’t have what it takes.”

Experts say both sides are in a cold war

But Robert Legvold, Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, has a different view.

“I believe we are already in a new Cold War.  That is not a majority view.  I think most people are reluctant to think that we could fall again into something as large, complicated, dangerous, with particularly the shadow of a nuclear Armageddon as we had in that 50 year period earlier.”

Legvold said some of the essential characteristics of the Soviet Union’s relationship with the West during that period are true of the relationship between Russia and the West today.

“First of all, rather than the ambiguous sense of the other side that both the U.S. and Europe had of Russia for much of the last 20 years, that is neither friend nor foe, something in between but not quite clear what - reciprocated by the Russians who saw the West in much the same term - that has disappeared” he said.  “And you see each side now literally not only defining the other side as adversary, but calling it such in speeches that we’ve had from major leaders and pundits in the press.”

US Russia relations at low point

Legvold said another sign of a new Cold War is that, in his view, officials in Washington and Moscow have apparently given up on the idea of working towards a fundamentally different cooperative relationship.

“The assumptions that underlay the Obama administration’s “reset,” for example.  They now have disappeared and have been replaced by the notion that the most we can hope for are momentary, quite specific, quite limited transactions that may be cooperative, but not something that adds up to a level of cooperation that begins to lead us toward genuine and durable partnership.”

Many experts believe a genuine and durable partnership could only be achieved with new leaders in Washington and Moscow.
Are US And Russia in a New Cold War?
Are US And Russia in a New Cold War?i
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Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

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by: VN from: Phila
May 02, 2014 3:31 AM
I've been saying this for years - Russians hate the Americans more than anybody, and always have. Russian society is formed against the key father figure (tsar, Stalin, Putin, etc.) and a national enemy figure - in the past it was Nazi Germany, then USA. More so, Russians are secretly, but lately more openly, collaborating and forming an alliance with China which potentially means nothing good for us at all. Us having outsourced the manufacturing to China will hit us hard and call me paranoid but it will happen quite soon (within Putin's life time) and suddenly - China may simply reposes the assets of American companies the escalate the military conflict together with Russia. This is becoming less about jobs floating away and more about sheer survival.


by: Jojo from: USA
April 24, 2014 11:09 PM
This is a new Cold War, not the same one, but it certainly will become one. The threat of power always has and always will be in the world


by: Damon ashworth from: Missouri USA
April 19, 2014 8:24 AM
I see how every one has there thought and that's great but if Russia wouldn't have so say "started " something with Ukraine there would probably be no talk in Cold War at all


by: mvmUSA from: Texas USA
April 17, 2014 5:49 PM
The Russians - especially their government - are simply vodka-chugging thugs - always have been.

In Response

by: Vahe from: Soghomonyan
April 22, 2014 4:33 PM
Look at yourself and your government. Oh I forgot, only yankees can solve everything everywhere.


by: Dennis from: USA
April 17, 2014 12:41 PM
as long as the world continues to call on the United States in times of trouble the New World Order is obsolete.to whom much is given much is required.if you want the seat of power you must accept all responsibility that comes with it the good and the bad.


by: Igor from: Russia
April 17, 2014 2:06 AM
Obama must stop using sactions as a threat against Russia because Russia will punish the USA in response. If Obama think the USA is the center of the universe, he is totally wrong. The USA must accept the world's new order.

In Response

by: Connor from: Canada
May 03, 2014 9:47 PM
Sorry I just laughed at the thought of Russia as the "top" world power.....

In Response

by: Albert E from: USA
April 17, 2014 6:50 AM
Igor we will accept that as soon as you liberate the Caucasus. No? Then STFU!


by: Joe
April 17, 2014 2:02 AM
😐 that's not right , either way if that happens u gotta talk to the person who works in the cage they will def help out!


by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
April 16, 2014 10:55 PM
I agree that a genuine and durable partnership could only be achieved with new leaders in Washington and Moscow. At least with a new American President. Altough President Obama is certainly right this is not another Cold War that we are entering into; just listen to his insulting to Mr Putin’s ears words that he reiterates repeatedly: “After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology… Russia is “a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors - not out of strength, but of weakness.” In nowadays Russia the only ideology is to grab as much as you can and hide somewhere in the West and to intimidate everybody who critisizes you for doing this. President Obama does not recognise that the insult that Mr Putin has noticed also has received overwhelming support among 80% respondents in Russia. The American side has not somehow noticed that for many year it has been pushing NATO hated in Russia more and more into the Russia’s underbelly, deploying rockets in the vicinity of Russia’s territory, and not observing some international laws to the dismay of Russia.There is a minute illustration of the USA willingly participating in human trafficking. Contrary to the provisions of The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, in the end of March 2014 Russian-born school age children have passed the U.S. Embassy’s interviews, have immigrated to the USA and have been received in the USA schools without any consent of their legal father, Russian Federation national. The mother’s family name is Orlova, first name Elena, middle name Evgenyevna, born October 1969, divorced three years ago. She travelled to her wed USA national, called John somewhere in New Jersey, for permanent place of residence. Her son’s family name is Orlov, first name Artemyi, middle name Ilyich, born June 30, 1997. Her daughter’s family name is Orlova, first name Veronica, middle name Ilyinichna, born December 25, 2006. Should Russia enjoy and tolerate NATO expansion, rocket deplpyment and human trafficking or react in any way?

In Response

by: mike from: ohio, usa
April 18, 2014 1:24 AM
I am quite sorry that i may dissagree with the known facts that are a illusion at the best. Both countries have survived on their equal participation of propaganda to program the masses, but why? There is a agenda that is higher than we can fathomly see. Cold war era and war period amoung superpowers is obsolete! None of the powers can afford global war because the global economy would be severely offset. The people in both countries have their simularities. Everyone is trying to survive through this tough global economy. However, the people have been separated into idealogies of deception, and this creates a east vs west issue. Russians and Americans need to wake up and unplug from deception that have entered into the consciences of separation.


by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 16, 2014 9:19 PM
"Cold War" is an arbitrary term used to describe a period of increased competition between Russia and the USA. The level of aggressiveness of Russia is dependent on the personality of the top leader. In the current circumstances, the USA should interpret Russia's actions as comparable to the behavior of a boa constrictor. The snake moves slowly while winding its coils around the intended victim and tightens its grip to strangle the victim before swallowing it whole. Obviously, trying to negotiate with a boa constrictor is useless, because the sake is totally focused on the process of swallowing the victim and any other sounds or actions are only diversions while following the process of swallowing the victim. Other former victims are familiar with the process and are alarmed that efforts to bag the snake are delayed in favor of useless negotiations.

In Response

by: From Trotsky's letters
April 17, 2014 3:46 AM
trying to negotiate with a boa constrictor is useless, because the sake is totally focused on the process of swallowing the victim... as opposed to negotiating with those totally focused on the process on winning minds and hearts by staging numerous coups and bombing bombing bombing bombing for the last 20 odd years. For a great and peaceful end, of course


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
April 16, 2014 2:44 PM
It is immaterial whether there is a cold war or not. Cold war just temporarily became dormant with the break up the Soviet Union. The West declared victory, but Russia did not recognize the victory of the west. Russia indirectly conquered the EU by the supply of badly needed energy. The Western Europe became dependent on Russia to such an extent that the Western countries cannot raise a finger against Russia.

Same is the story with China. China indirectly conquered US, the West and rest of the world with the supply of manufactured goods. No country dare to raise a finger against China because they are all dependent now on China. The US was inactivated by the President Obama's policy of non interference in any aggression anywhere. The EU was inactivated by the bickering among themselves and lack of initiative.

The world is still polarized politically by the US.and EU on one side and about half the world population of Russia, China, India and Brazil on the other side. The cold war still continues, the only difference this time is the weakness of the US, EU and NATO.

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