The United States consulate in St. Petersburg, which Russia announced will be closed.
To all outward appearances, Russia's retaliatory expulsions of American and other diplomats followed the old Cold War pattern : A Soviet deed would prompt Western punitive measures. Moscow would blithely deny any wrongdoing, declare itself victimized by a two-faced West and strike back with equivalent measures. So it was, for example, when the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 over the invasion of Afghanistan and the Soviet Union led an Eastern Bloc boycott of the Los Angeles Games four years later. And so it is now again, in Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Mr. Putin has fully embraced the old Kremlin aversion to ever admitting wrongdoing , whether it's shooting down a Malaysian jetliner , or killing Alexander Litvinenko , or seizing Crimea , or fighting in eastern Ukraine , or cyber-meddling in Western elections , or doping Olympic athletes . Or using a lethal chemical weapon to poison a double-agent and his daughter in a provincial city in England.
So far, déjà vu all over again. But there is a difference, and a potentially dangerous one. During the original Cold War, Moscow and Washington recognized that their ideological hostility and nuclear arsenals needed to be contained, so they talked through back channels and across a “hotline” to prevent unexpected crises from triggering confrontations, worked on disarmament and held regular meetings at all levels, up to the top.
A military hotline still operates to avoid clashes between American and Russian forces in Syria, but as tensions rose last week, António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, suggested it was time to revive the Cold War channels of communication and control. “Those mechanisms have been dismantled,” he said. “I do believe that mechanisms of this sort are necessary again.”
Post-Communist Russia is not the obvious enemy the Soviet Union was. Throughout Russia's slow slide into authoritarianism, there has lingered a hope that relations with Moscow can be reset, as Hillary Clinton sought to do and as President Trump seems eager to do. And while Mr. Putin's drive to restore Russian influence and might — witness his proud unveiling of an intercontinental missile in March that “can reach any point in the world” — is an echo of Soviet behavior, Russia has also undergone a considerable transformation since 1991. Russians travel widely and have nearly unlimited access to information and technology, and the Soviet command economy has given way to far greater consumerism.
More significantly, there is no Western consensus on Russia of the sort that held against the Soviet Union. European politicians like Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary or Czech President Milos Zeman are open admirers of Mr. Putin, and President Trump's relations with the Kremlin are a major question mark. Though the United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle, Mr. Trump made no comment on the crisis, either when he called Mr. Putin last week to congratulate him on his re-election or since.
All that makes the current confrontation less predictable than the showdowns of the Soviet past. Both Britain and the United States have left open further actions against Russia, to which Moscow would inevitably respond, and the deterioration in relations could affect efforts to find common ground on Syria or Islamist terrorism.
That, however, is not an argument for looking the other way when Russia violates the most elemental norms of international behavior. Russia is not the old Soviet Union, which makes it all the more imperative for the West to send a clear message that the old wiles and subterfuges also belong in the dustbin of history.
The former K.G.B. agent in Mr. Putin may find it intolerable that a turncoat is living comfortably in Britain, but it must be made clear to him that the West will unite in fury — yes, including Mr. Trump's America — when Russia's most fearsome weapons are deployed in a peaceful English town.
The New York Times Editorial Board is composed of journalists with wide-ranging areas of expertise. Their primary responsibility is to write The Times's editorials, which represent the voice of the board, its editor and the publisher. The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 122 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.
This commentary was originally published on March 31, 2018 , on Page A20 of the New York Times, NY edition with the headline: A Colder War With Russia? . Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Petroleumworld and its owners.
All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld.
All comments expressed are private comments and do not necessary reflect the view of this website. All comments are posted and published without liability to Petroleumworld.
Use Notice:This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance.
We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
All works published by Petroleumworld are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Petroleumworld has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Petroleumworld endorsed or sponsored by theoriginator.Petroleumworld encourages persons to reproduce, reprint, or broadcast Petroleumworld articles provided that any such reproduction identify the original source, http://www.petroleumworld.com or else and it is done within the fair use as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated.Copyright© 1999-2018 Petroleumworld or respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.
We welcome the use of Petroleumworld™ stories by anyone provided it ] mentions Petroleumworld.com as the source. Other stories you have to get authorization by its authors.Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated.
Petroleumworld welcomes your feedback and comments, share your thoughts on this article, your feedback is important to us!
Petroleumworld News 04/02/2018
We invite all our readers to share with us
their views and comments about this article.
Send this story to a friend
Write to email@example.com
By using this link, you agree to allow PW
to publish your comments on our letters page.
Any question or suggestions,
please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Best Viewed with IE 5.01+ Windows NT 4.0, '95,
'98,ME,XP, Vista, Windows 7,8 +/ 800x600 pixels