US and Russia relations after the defeat of the USSR:
The end of Cold War brought new challenges to Russian life, economy and politics. Actually, the post-Cold War period opened the new opportunities for Russia. Democracy made its first steps in the country. After seventy years of communism Russian people finally got a chance to live how the want, to say what they want and to do what they want. People got a chance to choose their own leader, to vote for the Congress members. And it was very confusing for the country. Russia needed somebody to come out and help in this critical situation.
Probably, the first country to do that was the United States. Russians "needed and wanted effective advise and technical help from the United States" (Pickering 102). And the most amazing thing was that the United States didn't mind and, actually, wanted to help Russia. But why? Why the United States wanted to help Russians? And I think the answer to that is very simple: the United States realized that America and Russia must not think of each other as natural enemies, but must work together to make more peaceful world, even if they were ready to destroy each other not that long ago. United States needed Russia as a strong partner in the twenty first century.
Russia went through many changes in its economy since the Russian Federation took over the Soviet Union. "An economy devoted almost entirely to the production of military goods was
forced to begin to provide what its citizens demanded, not what its rulers ordered" (Pickering 100). But it wasn't that easy.
Russian government appeared to be unexperienced in modernizing
the economy. Most of the people in government came from the school of the Soviet Union, so they were unable to do anything without somebody's help. "... the United States provided Russia with massive augments of experience, delivered through government and private sector advisors as well as by bringing Russians in large numbers to the US for training and exchanges" (Pickering 102). But the help of the US wasn't just a gift; America had something they got out of the help they were providing in building the Russian economy. All big American companies went to the Russian market. "American firms are convinced of Russia's extraordinary potential as the market for US trade and as a host for investments" (Pickering 102). Russians were prefer to buy American clothes, food, cars and electrical devises. All new-born Russian private companies preferred to partner with American companies. Each year Americans were increasing the sales of their own products on the Russian market. As I said earlier, Russia devoted itself to the new type of the economy; with private sector businesses. But what they could do with all those weapons produced during the Soviet era? And the way out was found. Russia became the biggest exporter of military ammunition on the world market. The exports of oil also put Russia on the leading positions in the world. Everything was going just fine. "Russia was moving from pure stabilization to the resumption of economic Shkolnikov 3
growth" (Pickering 103).
The only one thing that was bothering both countries,
especially Russia, was the growth of Russian mafia. In the middle
90's the level of corruption in the Russian government was very high. Mafia controlled everything; starting from stores, which pay some percent of their income every month, and ending with police, which was completely under control of the mafia. The power of mafia really bothered American businessmen, who didn't want to pay them and didn't want to get shot by mafia. And since they refused to pay, the number of American businessmen shot in Russia was growing. But this doesn't really stops Americans from doing business in Russia.
The other problem that Americans were concerned about is nuclear potential of Russia. During the leadership of the communism the USSR produced huge number of nuclear weapons and power stations. "US spends approximately $530 million each year on a bewilderingly large numbers of programs and initiatives focused on the weapons complexes of the former Soviet Union" (Zorpette 24). But because of the corruption in the top of the government the nuclear stations don't get the money for reconstruction. "Russians still run the dangerous reactors because they provide heat and electricity for nearby towns" (Zorpette 20). The military don't want to spend its own money on destroying the nuclear weapons so, since the army itself don't get the money that the United States provide, Russians destroy the nuclear weapons in some other cheap ways, which are not
really good for the environment.
The space programs are very important in the relationship of these two countries. Russia had great space potential. But the country needed money for keeping the space centers alive, for scientists who didn't have any money to live, for all those cosmonauts who were in the space and had to stay there for two or three years because country couldn't pay for them to get back. And the United States provided Russia with that help. The United States spend hundreds of millions of dollars. There is one reason for America to do that: it will be better if Russian technologists stay in Russia to work on peaceful space projects rather then hiring out to build missiles or other high-technology weapons for unstable developing nations such as Iran, Lebanon and Iraq.
The United States say that Russians should contain crime problem, avoid conflicts such as the one with Chechnya, and keep the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) from turning into another USSR. The United States has nothing to worry about, because the level of crime in Russia is going down. The Russian police find ways to fight against mafia. Chechnya is an independent republic, since Russia after two years of war granted their independence. The conflict was a tough lesson for Russia and I don't think that Russia will ever be involved in something like that again. The United States shouldn't worry about the CIS. I don't think there is any way for the USSR to get back together. Wasn't it Yeltsin who made a historic decision to affirm the
borders of the old Soviet republics as new international ones? Russia wanted to break the Soviet Union forever, and did it. Is it possible for Democracy to loose on the next presidential elections? No. Most of the people in Russia can see the difference between the USSR and Russia. Democracy made its first steps and people realized how miserable their life was during the Communism. Voting against Democracy is going to do any good for the country and people know that.
In six years since the white-blue-red flag of Russian Federation replaced the hammer and sickle flying over the Kremlin, Russia made a number of difficult, courageous and correct choices. The country which has been destroyed by the communists came back as a strong and powerful nation. Democracy took its roots in the country. The rudiments of a market economy and a financial infrastructure are now in place. The ruble is stable; inflation is under control. The private sector rules the business in Russia. The country raised up from the ruins. And all this had been accomplished with the help of the United States. I can't say that all the Russian people appreciated what the Americans did. Some of them didn't like that at all. There are some people in the government who didn't like what the Americans do. Some of those have an assess to the media. So sometimes media writes about the United States as the country that wants to ruin Russia. "Americans who operate exchange programs and conduct research in Russia are concerned about a report attributed to a government agency there that characterized such US-sponsored
activities as espionage" (Desruisseaux A44). I don't think that this is what Russians think. That is the opinion of those who had a good life during Communism. "Many Russians realize that the
efforts represented by this supposed report are efforts to weaken and cripple Russia, and cut it off from the rest of the world" (Desruisseaux, A44). And this is exactly what Russians think. And I don't believe all those rumors about the next Cold War in the next century. Russia and United States have to work together to make the next century more peaceful then this one.
Desruisseaux, Paul "Report in Russia accuses US-backed programs of espionage." Chronicle of Higher Education 24 January 1995: A44
Pickering, Thomas A. "US - Russia relations." Vital Speeches of the Day 1 December 1994: 100-103
Zorpette, Glenn "Down the drain." Scientific American December 1996: 20, 24
US and Russia relations after the defeat of the USSR
English 112, 9:00 - 10:00 am M,W,F
February 14, 1997