Home » The US Has a Chance to Defeat Russian Imperialism for Good
Afghanistan Featured Featured Global News News Russia

The US Has a Chance to Defeat Russian Imperialism for Good

In the last 18 months, the Russian Federation became the latest empire to succumb to imperial overreach. 

The U.S. had already discovered in Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan that military interventions in other countries can end in defeat — even for the greatest superpower in the world. But modern Russia’s imperial expansion failed to teach its leaders this important lesson. 

Russia’s three-decade history of (relatively) bloodless victories deceived its leaders, to the point that they came to believe their own myth of invincibility. 

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian military has been returning to the old Soviet borders. A Russian army has remained in Moldova, in the breakaway region of Transnistria, since the early 1990s. Russia attacked and seized effective control of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia in the five-day war of 2008. Russia then seized Ukraine’s Donbas region and Crimea in 2014. 

The borders of Armenia and Tajikistan are patrolled by Russian troops, and stability in Kazakhstan in 2022 had to be restored with Russian support. That same year, Russian troops reentered Azerbaijan to enforce a ceasefire with its neighbor Armenia.   

Outside the borders of the former USSR, Russian intervention in Syria saved the presidency of Bashar al Assad and guaranteed an extension of its naval base on the Mediterranean.

The Russian military may be a hollow shell compared to the Red Army of yesteryear, but its string of victories has been impressive. It made Russia the “indispensable nation” in Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia. No war could be won without Russian backing, no peace maintained without Russian acquiescence.

Or so it seemed before February 2022, when the Russian victory parade in Kyiv had to be cancelled.

The Kremlin’s vaunted military machine became mired in thick Ukrainian mud before having to surrender most of its initial gains. The repercussions are being felt everywhere. In Moldova, the government has openly condemned a Russian coup plot. In the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, Russian peacekeepers have been standing by helplessly while Azerbaijan reinstates its sovereignty over the disputed Karabakh region. Russia has been forced to inform its longtime Armenian allies that they must accept that Karabakh Armenians live in Azerbaijan. In Kazakhstan, the government has broken from Moscow, signaling its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The effects are nowhere stronger than in Europe, where Poland now aspires to become the next military superpower, the Baltic states welcome a permanent NATO presence and Germany has promised to rearm against the menace in the East. 

The most cataclysmic changes for Russia have been north of the Baltic Sea, where the neutral countries of Finland and Sweden flew into the arms of NATO and its Article Five protections. Putin claimed that Ukraine’s NATO pretentions were an existential threat to the Russian Federation — Kyiv is, after all, only an 11-hour drive from Moscow. But Putin now shares a NATO border with Finland, a mere five-hour drive from Saint Petersburg.

Countries in the global south have tried to steer clear of these developments, refusing to condemn Russia for its blatant aggression against a neighboring country in hopes of picking up some crumbs from Moscow’s largesse. This is not a new strategy. Throughout the Cold War, the countries within the Non-Aligned Movement tried to play the two superpowers against each other. 

The biggest wildcard now is China. After declaring its relationship with Russia as something closer than an alliance, China announced that it would not provide lethal aid to Russia. Now it has gone a step further, declaring that it will ban the export of its dual-use drones.

On balance, America is backing the winning side in this global competition. Despite the Russian/Chinese propaganda that America is a nation in decline, it still maintains the greatest conventional military in the world. Its nuclear arsenal is only matched by Russia’s; its economy is the marvel of the world. And Russia has almost single-handedly done something the United States could not do: expand and reinvigorate the American-led NATO alliance.

Pundits call for a negotiated settlement in Ukraine. They want Vladimir Putin to be given an off-ramp, a face-saving way of ending the conflict while saving his own skin. 

Putin’s worldview, however, visible to all since the 2007 Munich Security Conference, is that America is an implacable enemy that must be stopped from imposing its values on the Russian world. Negotiations cannot alter this perception — they can only give Putin time to rearm and renew his struggle with the West.

The U.S. should continue to support Ukraine in its struggle for independence from its northern hegemon. At the same time, it should look to other fronts that will weaken the Kremlin’s desire to continue fighting.They held him 525 days past his release. Will the courts let him fight back?When did summer becoming synonymous with suffering?

Renewed ties with China will go a long way toward stymying Moscow. America should also help other countries facing Russian occupation. Moldova would like to restore its sovereignty over its territory; Armenia and Azerbaijan do not need Russian troops on the border; Georgia should not be bound by a unilateral renunciation of force that Russia has never reciprocated. 

It is time for the U.S. to stop looking toward the next election drama in Washington, D.C., and reclaim its title as leader of the Free World.

James J. Coyle is an independent consultant on security affairs and an adjunct lecturer at Pepperdine University. He was formerly the director of Middle East studies, DNSS, U.S. Army War College.

Source : The Hill