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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora