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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs