For the final event of the Fall 2019 semester, the Kozmetsky Center of Excellence hosted a lecture by Dr. Dmitry Suslov, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University, Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia, and Member of the Valdai International Discussion Club. Dr. Suslov joined St. Edward's University students, faculty and staff via video-teleconference in Carter Auditorium for his lecture, which was followed by a question and answer session with event attendees.
Dr. Suslov’s lecture addressed major issues in the contemporary U.S.-Russian relationship with his analysis focusing on the question, have the United States and Russia entered a new “Cold War?” Dr. Suslov argued that the prospect for a new Cold War was up for debate; at the same time, he presented nine reasons why the current confrontation between the United States and Russia was deeper and more comprehensive than in past decades. Suslov’s points included:
1. Unlike a classic great power rivalry, today’s US-Russia confrontation is less about geography and more about the principles of international relations and the post-1989 world order.
2. The United States does not consider the Russian Federation with its current political regime and foreign policy to be a legitimate actor.
3. The United States claims that the nature of the Russian domestic political regime is at the roots of all problems of the US-Russia relations, and that it will proceed with confrontational policies unless the Russian political regime and Russian foreign policy undergo a fundamental change.
4. Both states regard each other as adversaries, and the US characterization of Russia as adversary is official and legislative.
5. Instruments of confrontation are comprehensive and include economic, foreign policy, informational and military measures. The US sanctions against Russia are unlikely to be repealed in many years to tome, and therefore are an instrument of containment and confrontation, not a flexible foreign policy tool.
6. The confrontation between the United States and Russia today is determining many of the policy actions in the third countries and regions, such as Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria.
7. The scale of information warfare today, and the demonization of President Putin is comparable to demonization of Joseph Stalin in 1950s.
8. Both Russia and the United States accuse each other of regime change politics (i.e., domestic election interference).
9. Both states are also convinced that they are on the right side of history.
Furthermore, Dr. Suslov warned that the contemporary tensions in the U.S.-Russian relationship would lead to re-emergent risks to global security and would create unique challenges for policymakers. The risks include increased threat of US-Russian “hot” war, escalating to a nuclear level, a new arms race, economic and political instability and further rise of other players such as China. Dr. Suslov concluded his remarks by suggesting that it would be in the best interest of both the United States and the Russian Federation to normalize their relations for the benefit of global stability and security. This normalization should start with efforts to manage the new US-Russian confrontation in order to avoid a direct military clash and uncontrollable arms race. This requires a strong US-Russian dialogue on strategic stability, which should be conducted disregarding other differences and problems.