Sergei Snegov: entering another spiral of the cold war. How is Russia to counter Borodin’s arrest?

General Vladimir Yakovlev, Russia’s strategic rocket force chief, used a fairly tough rhetoric speaking of the US on the New Year’s eve. Commenting on statements made by General Colin Powel (who has received the post of US Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration) of the national Anti-Missile Defence system deployment, General Yakovlev warned that all attempts to create such a system would be vigorously resisted by the Russian part. Moreover, in his words, Moscow will be “forced to speak to the US administration a different language and in a different tone of voice.” However, it is America that has started to speak to Russia “in a different tone of voce.” It is all too clear by now that the times of a “great Russian-American friendship” are gone. The relationships between the two countries have reached an equilibrium of sorts, or a mutually beneficial rivalry, as it were. Hence we get exchanges of caustic remarks, spy and economic rows, military exercises, Russian aircrafts flying over American aircraft carriers, hints of US submarines’ complicity in the Kursk tragedy. Russia and US are joining in an old game which opposite objectives for both parties. Russia has little money while America has quite a lot, which needs to be spent without delay. Russia helps US make as many investments as possible. US allows for high oil prices to linger which makes it possible for Russia to have huge revenues to be spent on arms and social programmes. As for the AMD system deployment, it really looks very promising for US economy – huge investments, thousands of jobs, industry working at full capacity. Everybody seems to be satisfied. But the main thing here is not to overact. As the experience shows, you may be balancing on the brink as long as you can, at least as long as it is beneficial for all the parties concerned. Or until one of the parties patently goes too far. The arrest of Mr. Borodin, the Union of Russia and Belarus’s secretary of state, seems to be the case. Imagine, what if US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had been arrested during her official visit to Moscow, say, on charges of controversial bombardments of Yugoslavia? It is all too clear that Mr. Borodin’s arrest has been scrupulously orchestrated. Interestingly, Mr. Borodin has this time obtained a visa using his internal Russian passport which cleared the way to his detention. Had he used his diplomatic passport, he would have enjoyed immunity. Russia’s Foreign Ministry warns that Russia’s reaction to this demarche is going to be tough.

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