The US President-elect Joe Biden’s Russia obsession is bound to open Pandora’s box. Throughout his Presidential campaign, Biden and other Democrats kept vilifying Russia. Biden even declared Russia an American enemy, and now Moscow has naturally grown concerned about the incoming Biden administration. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks at the annual press conference in Moscow on December 17 also suggested that the Kremlin may drop the policy of “strategic patience” and get more assertive against American provocations.
With Donald Trump at the helm of affairs, the Russian policy of “strategic patience” was easy to implement. President Trump focused his energies on handling the China threat. He was also seen as more conducive when it came to cooperating with Russia for global peace and stability. Also, Trump understood the anachronism associated with an anti-Russia NATO in an Indo-Pacific dominated world order. However, the incoming Biden administration is expected to play up US-Russia rivalry.
Last week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow expects nothing good in relations with a “deeply hostile” Washington under the incoming Biden administration. In an interview with Interfax, Ryabkov said, “We are heading from bad to worse. The next US President has been left with a bad legacy and it will take a long time for him to sort this out.”
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also made it clear that Moscow has not contacted Biden’s transition team. He said, “We are not going to do this. In the end, it’s up to the Americans to decide what, when and how to make our bilateral relations.”
While Ryabkov did not rule out a “selective dialogue” with the incoming administration in the US, he did conclude that it was absurd to expect better ties “from people who, many of them, have spent their careers engaging in Russophobia and throwing mud at my country.”
Ryabkov’s remarks are crucial. As the Deputy Foreign Minister, Ryabkov is in charge of US-Russia ties in the Foreign Ministry. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov too, has suggested that Moscow will withstand greater American pressure under the incoming Biden administration.
Lavrov knows that with a Biden administration repairing US ties with the European Union (EU), leaders like Merkel and Biden will push coordinated sanctions against Russia. So, the Foreign Minister said, “The United States has long been pursuing a hostile policy towards our country. A response will certainly follow, not only in terms of reciprocation, but we will also draw additional conclusions on the entire range of Russia-US relations.”
Putin himself has gone as far as remarking that the Russian military is fully prepared for the American threat. Again, Biden has shown the intent of reinvigorating an obsolete NATO. If Biden starts working actively with the NATO, then the level of military deployment in Russia’s west could go up.
So, Putin made it clear that Russia outmatches the US with the next-gen hypersonic weapons it has developed. He added, “We are working, among other things, on the ‘antidote’ against future hypersonic weapons in other countries… I am confident we will do that and we are on the right path”.
The Russian President also said, “We must be ready to respond in a timely manner to the Western countries’ deployment of counterpart missiles near our borders. If we are forced to, we must take all response measures and do this in the shortest time possible…I would like to emphasise that with respect to strategic forces, we have already done serious research and technology groundwork on pieces of equipment that have no counterparts in the world.”
Biden’s anti-Russia rhetoric is thus making Putin impatient. If the incoming Biden administration actually tries to play up the so-called Russia threat to the US, then the Kremlin may not respond in a very soft manner. The era of US-Russia rivalry might return with Biden’s apparent victory and this is bad news for the entire world.