Beware The Russian Bear | By Vikrant Sharma

Beware The Russian Bear 

By Vikrant Sharma 

Founder-Editor, The Global Telescope 


On this day 79 years ago, on 22 June 1941, Germany broke the non-aggression pact between itself and the Soviet Union that led to the entry of the Red Army (Soviet Union) into the Second World War. This, many argue, would prove to be the biggest mistake of Adolf Hitler that would cost him the war as his military could not fight a two-front war in Europe.

The Russian Bear has been used as a symbol for the country for centuries. Some view it positively, others negatively. No matter how you look at it, no one has been able to deny one thing for centuries now- the Bear is definitely mighty.

More than 1/9th of the entire land area on Earth is a part of Russia alone. Granted, Russia is sparsely populated in comparison to its size; in fact, a far bigger majority lives in the smaller European half of Russia than the vast Asian area. The total population of this geographical mammoth is roughly 146 million, which is less than the 165 million people (approx.) living in Bangladesh.

Russia has a long and illustrious history. Here, I shall give you a quick recap of its military history in the last 100 years or so. Entering World War 1 as an ally of Serbia, Russia proved a formidable force under Tsar Nicholas II during the Great War. The war however depleted resources in Russia. In 1917, the Russian Revolution started that concluded with the creation of the Soviet Union. About 20 years later, Hitler and Stalin had a non-aggression pact between themselves, that was broken by Hitler on this very day in 1941, which forced the Red Army of the Soviet Union to enter the Second World War against Germany while allying with the UK and the USA, along with France. As the dust settled on the Second World War, a cold war started between USA and Soviet Union for greater influence on the global geo-political stage. This indirectly led to the Korean and Vietnamese wars, as well as the invasion of Afghanistan.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the West celebrated its victory over communism and the present-day Russia was formed. While USA has reigned supreme in a global hegemony since, Russia never became a mute spectator or a failed state. In fact, courtesy its Soviet past and the infamous Arms Race, Russia is still arguably the second most powerful military in the entire world.

Let us transport ourselves back to the present world. Take a deep breath. Okay, back to the present we are.

China has emerged as a threat to the West, faster than most had predicted. The economic and public health chaos caused around the world by COVID-19 has pushed this conflict between the liberal democracies of the West and the communist regime of China to the forefront of the geopolitical stage. There is no proof that China did anything wrong with COVID, but there is also no denying the fact that the conflict lines between the West and China have become much less blurry as a result of the consequences of the pandemic.

It definitely does not look like these fault lines are going to be repaired soon. China and the West (led by the USA) are set to lock horns repeatedly over the next years and, quite possibly, decades. We see the battle-lines being drawn up as we speak. Australia has openly criticised China repeatedly over the last few weeks, USA has increased its criticisms of the Chinese leadership, and UK and Canada have also chipped in with criticism. The EU, often accused of being soft of China, has also raised concerns and some MEPs (Members of European Parliament) have been fervently asking for economic sanctions on China.

China has been prodding India along its northern borders in Ladakh recently. India has increased its strategic and military alliance with the West through the Quad group (India, USA, Australia, Japan) over the past few years. The West continues to look at India as a key partner in the near future, especially with the rising conflict with China. A stable democracy with a good track record in human rights, and one of the best militaries in the world, India is a natural partner for the West.

But there is one global player that not many are noticing. A player that has the power, influence and logistical capabilities to turn the tables in any future conflict- Russia.

Palace Square, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia | Photo by Victor Malyushev on Unsplash

It is paramount that the West come to an understanding with Russia to prevent it from siding increasingly with the Chinese. The West might not want to be in bed with Russia and that's understandable. But it is in their own interest to, at the least, send Russia a few presents and make sure it’s persuaded to not pick a side.

When Donald Trump proposed the G7 expansion plan to include Russia, initial reaction from Russia was muted. It wanted to wait for things to be official. But when Canada, UK and the 3 EU countries in G7 refused to accept Russia’s re-entry (Russia was removed from G8 in 2014 for taking over Crimea), the plan went down the drain. This prompted Russia to effectively side with China, and Moscow said that the attempt to exclude China was problematic.

Russia and the West have many problems. The West is still sour about Russia annexing Crimea in 2014. There is also the issue of an ex-KGB agent who was poisoned in London in 2006, and the cyber-attack on Germany’s parliament in 2015 linked to Russia. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has pushed for sanctions against Russia for the latter within the last couple of weeks. More recently, relations between Czech Republic, a member of both EU and NATO, have deteriorated massively with Russia. There are other points of contention, such as the West raising questions on the democratic process in Serbia, an ally of Russia.

These are serious issues, make no mistake. But the threat of China, a country that is united under a communist regime that censors all information and has many countries around the world stuck in its debt trap, should be enough to make the West realise that the global world order is shifting and the allegiance of Russia, a military behemoth that shares a large border with China, is crucial for a strategic advantage.

The Secretary General of NATO has agreed in a recent interview that China poses a great threat to the West. He also said that China is currently rapidly developing long-range missiles that can directly reach Europe and is also upgrading its nuclear arsenal- steps that should deeply trouble the West. I opine that this is not the time to weaken NATO, as Trump has been doing since he came to power. The West needs unity.

If the West can’t get Russia on its side, it should at least make it a priority to keep Russia neutral. As the Eagle and the Dragon lock horns, the support of the Bear can prove to be critical for both.


Title Inspiration From The Video Here


|| The force behind the blog, Vikrant Sharma is the Founder-Editor of The Global Telescope. A student of law, he is deeply passionate about history, political science, public international law, international relations, and diplomacy. ||


All views presented in the article belong solely to the writer. The editor does not support or condemn the views, and neither does The Global Telescope. The Global Telescope remains impartial and promotes every individual's right to freedom of speech and expression while not holding any responsibility for the views presented whatsoever.


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