News / Europe

Soviet Collapse Altered Ongoing World Power Balance

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (C) makes his last annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow December 22, 2011.
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (C) makes his last annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow December 22, 2011.
Al Pessin

The collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago changed the world’s geopolitical balance.

When the Soviet Union fell, it ended the tenure of a superpower with the resources of more than a dozen countries. The fall left its largest component, Russia, unable to wield anything like the global clout that the Soviet Union had for decades.

Russia expert James Nixey of London’s Chatham House research center said Russians are still struggling to come to terms with that.

Empire lost

“Those days are over, and Russia needs to reconcile itself to the fact it is no longer an empire. The empire is gone. And its ‘sphere of influence’ is an anachronism to which nobody else subscribes,” said Nixey.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering said after 1991 the world developed somewhat along the lines Russia expected, and the United States did not want.

“The Russians early on talked about multipolarity. Multipolarity became a dirty word in the United States - we didn’t like it. But in the end Russia and China and India, to its own extent, Europe and Japan, are all major players on the world scene - Brazil perhaps, that we’ll have to look at and work with, and we need to find new ways to deal with,” said Pickering.

Russia continues to try to assert itself in international affairs.

And it recently joined the World Trade Organization, a move Russian delegate Anatoly Chubais said is the first step toward a more prominent international role.

“After almost a hundred years of the very complicated Russian history, after the Bolshevik Revolution, after the Democratic Revolution in 1991, Russia is coming back to the civilized world," said Chubais.

Playing a positive part

A more constructive role likely would be welcomed by the West, which has worked with Russia on a few issues, including North Korea.

“Normally, Russia is a spoiler in international relations. It wants a global role. It wants to sit astride the world stage and act as it used to be able to do. And it can still do that to a certain extent. But for the most part, it acts as a spoiler or a counterweight to the West, at best,” said Nixey.

The world has changed a lot since the fall of the Soviet Union. China has become a major world power. The European Union has expanded into the old Soviet sphere of influence, and may go farther into the former Soviet Union itself. Militant groups have sought new benefactors.  

Experts say 20 years later Russia’s leaders are facing a choice - try to regain the past glory of the Soviet Union, which could be irrevocably lost, or become constructive partners in the multipolar world the country’s former leaders once envisioned.


You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid