News / Europe

US-Russian Relations Nosedive, Sparking Cold War Jitters

FILE - President Barack Obama, left, walks away after shaking hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Sept. 5, 2013.
FILE - President Barack Obama, left, walks away after shaking hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Sept. 5, 2013.
Catherine Maddux
Tough talk among both U.S. and Russian officials over Ukraine has raised questions -- mostly among  observers, journalists and public opinion pollsters -- about whether or not the United States and Russia are sliding towards a new Cold War.

​Rasmussen Reports, a U.S.-focused public opinion polling organization, tackled that very question in a new poll.

It asked likely American voters whether or not the political turmoil in Ukraine has taken us back to the days before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a period that saw decades of chilly relations that brought the U.S. and Russia to the brink during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  

President John F. Kennedy, Jr. meet with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961.President John F. Kennedy, Jr. meet with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961.
x
President John F. Kennedy, Jr. meet with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961.
President John F. Kennedy, Jr. meet with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961.
"What you see, not surprisingly, is people 40 [years old] and over are much more alarmed. They are much more likely to see the Russians as an enemy, they are much more likely to say 'here we go again,'" said Fran Coombs, Managing Editor of Rasmussen Reports.  

Coombs, who grew up during the  so-called "duck and cover" era, said younger respondents, those aged 39 and younger, were less likely to have Cold War jitters, despite rising concern about US-Russian relations.

Rasmussen’s survey found that around 45 percent of likely voters believe the two superpowers will return to a Cold War relationship, up nine points since last August following Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to American NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

While the poll did not try to address why Americans are worried about Russia, Coombs believes it is clear that the recent news from Ukraine is not the only the reason.

"Headlines drive a lot of people's thinking," he said. "Putin gets terrible press, he doesn't really care what the United States thinks. The Snowden thing…Russia has had bad press in this country for a while, and you see it spike when something like this happens."

Coombs said that foreign policy surveys like this tend to reflect heightened media coverage, suggesting that the very idea of another Cold War comes to mind when key events are reported over and over again in a saturated media environment.

But be careful of using the phrase  Cold War – in its purest historical context --  to assess how serious current U.S.-Russian tensions are, said Frida Ghitis, world affairs columnist for the Miami Herald and World Politics Review.  

While Ghitis firmly believes that we are witnessing a new Cold War,  she said today’s dynamics are very different: the US-Russia “reset button” policy of years past is now clearly over.

“I think what we’re seeing now is the end of a phase of the post-Cold War phase of trying to develop a cooperative relationship between Russia and the West,” Ghitis said.  “You know, we use the term ‘Cold War’, and we use the term loosely.  It’s really a completely different situation now.  In those days…it was a bipolar world – the United States and the Soviet Union – each leading a large bloc with conflicting ideologies.  It was a rivalry of power and ideologies. We don’t really have that rivalry of ideologies anymore.”

Still,  the deployment of Russian troops to Crimea, which Putin has defended as merely protecting Russian bases there, has the feeling of a new Cold War, according to Charles Kupchan, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, even if one cannot pinpoint exactly where the point of no return is.

“What happened in the Crimean Peninsula, the readiness of Russia to violate the territory of one of its neighbors, occupy that land and potentially rip it away from a country to which it legally belongs, that is a profound violation of the rules of the road,” Kupchan said in an interview with VOA's Russia service. “I am guessing this is not a turning point in which we will say the Cold War has returned, but that outcome is not out of the question.”

But Ghitis counters that the most accurate way to describe today’s U.S.-Russia rivalry might be as a kind of not-so-hot Cold War.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
March 09, 2014 10:46 AM
It’s crystal clear that the author is out of her depths and doesn’t know a thing about present-day Russia and public opinion in the country. She writes about her unreal, sci-fi imagined world, about what Americans WANT to read but what doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground. It’s her absolute hysterics to talk about ‘relations nosedive’ and ‘cold war jitters’ after the deployment of Russian troops to Crimea by which Putin has protected Russian bases lawfully stationed in Crimea in accordance with bilateral agreements between Russia and Ukraine. In the future, it would be better for the reporter to try out writing about more prosaic things than to show the world her prejudices and incompetence. To reporter’s knowledge: it sounds like a paradox but the truth is that the overwhelming majority of Russians without any hesitation approve such actions of Mr. Putin and his regime. Be what might happen, but Russians don’t bother about ‘relations nosedive’ and ‘cold war jitters in the USA’. The Napoleonic war of 1812 and the war against Hitler showed the world that in Russian psyche there is zero-tolerance to any harassment in the international arena. To say the truth, at the same time Putin’s regime isn’t that popular in Russia on issues of observance of human rights, law and order.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs