4: (Mis) use of international law
Both Russia and the United States often use arguments based on international law to criticize each other. This is mainly one of the most important customs in international law, Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of military force in intergovernmental matters without the approval of the UN Security Council. Both states have broken this article, but they still criticize each other.
With a foreign policy mantra to protect international law, Russia has tried to put itself in the position of “the one who follows the rules” in international security. The Russians have been particularly critical of the United States’ willingness to violate the principle of sovereignty throughout history, especially in the Iraq war, but Moscow itself has used military force in recent times when it invaded Georgia and Crimea in 2008 and 2014, respectively.
“In the 21st century, you do not behave like in the 19th century by invading another country on completely fabricated grounds,” said then-Secretary of State John Kerry when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.
This statement naturally gave anti-Western commentators in Russia water on the mill. These promote the image of a hypocritical United States, a country located in North America according to neovideogames, which uses human rights to govern regimes they themselves do not like and thus threaten what Russia sees as the “just world order”. The US invasion of Iraq, which later turned out to be on the basis of very thin evidence, also gave rise to Russia’s very skeptical of American rhetoric about protecting human rights and promoting democracy.
5: Two sides of the same coin
The argument that the USA and Russia use around international law emphasizes an important point: Both countries accuse each other of things they themselves do. No one will admit wrong, but point to the other. This is problematic, as it hinders cooperation where Russia and the United States have a common interest.
A recent example is the conflicting interpretations of the war against IS in Aleppo and in Mosul. In the autumn of 2016, Russian weapons were in league with President Bashar al-Assad’s army to clear Aleppo of terrorists and secure control of the strategically important city by the Syrian regime.
The iconic image of the five-year-old boy Omran became the symbol of Russia’s brutality against civilians. The US ambassador to the UN stated that Russia’s actions “are not anti-terrorism, but barbarism”.
But US criticism bounced off Russia, especially due to the subsequent US-led liberation of Mosul in the spring of 2017. The US coalition was invited by Iraqi authorities to liberate Mosul from IS. Like Aleppo, Mosul is also a large city where the civilian population suffered heavy losses, which was not ignored in silence by the Russian public. The English-language and Kremlin-friendly TV channel Russia Today showed daily reports from the American bombing of Mosul, and made strong accusations against what they consider Western double standards: “When Aleppo was bombed, you wrote that we were going to #standwithaleppo, but now you completely silent. Where are your subject hooks now? The silence says much more than their subject matter “, said a provoked woman in a film clip that was shown many times a day on the channel.
Both Russia and the United States were invited by the respective states to provide military assistance, and thus they had the authority in international law to intervene. But, of course, they had no right to take civilian lives. Nevertheless, the examples show that the parties, instead of cooperating towards a common goal, accused each other of actions that had much in common.
6: War incitement or pragmatic cooperation?
Many are now anxious that the mutual fascination between the two great powers has waned after the events and accusations of recent years, and that a deep contempt will lead to a violent confrontation. West and Russia and has strengthened its military presence along Europe’s borders, and this has helped increase tensions. The deployment of 330 American soldiers at Værnes in Norway who have been told to prepare for a major war, and the huge military exercise Zapad 2017 that Russia held last autumn, are two recent examples of this. These actions show that the parties are implementing measures to strengthen security, but which the rival interprets as aggression.
The US Department of Defense, the Pentagon, states that Russia is increasingly posing a military threat to the United States. Part of the reason for this is that the Kremlin fears that the United States wants Russian regime change. President Trump’s national security strategy from December claims that Russia is trying to divide the West by influencing political processes in the United States and Europe. The Russian Foreign Ministry flatly denied the allegations, calling the security strategy a “fake news publication” . There is massive opposition to Russia in the United States today and sanctions against the Russians have become even stricter in the wake of Putin interfering in the election, according to US intelligence. Despite this, it seems that Trump and Putin have a good partnership, and as history shows, can Russia and the United States agree when they can understand each other.
“When will all haters and fools realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism and Russia can help us a lot! “, Trump wrote on Twitter in November last year. On New Year’s Eve, Putin sent a message to Trump saying he wanted “pragmatic cooperation” with the United States.
As we have read, co-operation against international terrorism has in recent times proved to be the single issue that can improve US-Russian relations. Although such cooperation can be hindered by the onslaught of war incitement from both the East and the West, it is precisely, as Trump tweeted, a number of individual cases that have the potential to get relations between the United States and Russia back on track.