Should Russia be considered a hostile country? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Before I answer this question, let me set forth two caveats that must be kept in mind.  First, we must realize that this is a matter of personal opinion.  There is no objective way to determine whether Russia is “hostile.”  Second, we must realize that there is no dichotomy between “hostile” and “friendly.”  Instead, there is a continuum along which we can place countries.  Some, like Canada, would be very far toward the “friendly” pole of the continuum while others, like North Korea, would be far to the “hostile” side.  The point is that there is no breaking point along that continuum where we can say that a country tips from being friendly to hostile.  A country can be friendly (or at least not hostile) in some ways while remaining hostile in others.

All that said, my own view is that Russia should be seen as a hostile country.  By this, I mean that Russia generally does not agree with American positions on most issues and that it often wishes to thwart American ambitions around the world.  Russia is a country that believes that it should be a great power or, at the very least, a regional hegemon.  Russia feels that it should be able to dominate the countries of its “near abroad.”  It wants to be the undisputed regional power and it wants countries like the Baltics and the “Stans” of Central Asia to be under its influence.  This desire makes it largely hostile to the United States.  The US wants to spread democracy and economic liberty across the world.  It feels that it is doing this for altruistic reasons.  This is why, for example, it wants Ukraine to have a government that is pro-Europe (because Europe is democratic and economically open) rather than pro-Russia.  When faced with this sort of goal on the part of the Americans, Russia pushes back.  It believes that the US and Europe are trying to encircle and weaken Russia.  This makes it take actions that are contrary to America’s desires.

Russia also takes its disagreements with the US to a broader stage.  Russia is generally opposed to American preoccupations with things like human rights, largely because it sees this as a way for the US to get more power around the world.  This is why, for example, Russia supports the government of President Assad of Syria in the face of American opposition.  Russia can be counted on to block most American efforts to push foreign countries to be more democratic and more respectful of human rights.

Russia is not hoping to destroy the United States or to spread its own system around the world as was the case in the Cold War.  However, Russia is generally opposed to the things that the US wants to do around the world.  Because Russia tends to behave in this way, I would say that we should generally see it as a “hostile” country.

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