In one of the articles under consideration Europe’s Russia Question by Giles Merritt, the secretary-general of Friends of Europe, the problem of Russian-European relations is clearly stated. But the positions and frames of reference of both opponents are quite vague. Europe as well as Russia still misapprehends each other’s actions on the world arena. The correspondent notes that these two forces seem rather aggressive, one of the reasons of it is Russian gas politics. As Dmitri Medvedev was chosen by President Putin to be the chairman of Gazprom, the gas issue turned to appear in a more severe light. Giles Merritt compares Medvedev’s politics with an “emerging stranglehold” (Merritt). It is not a secret that relations between Europe and Russia have been impairing for a definite period of time. Economic and energy issues in particular are being redoubled and in that Cold War as it is sometimes called there exists a considerable risk of undisguised enmity growing. One more burning point is Kosovo. Merritt also considers this point and states: “Early next year most of the European Union’s member nations will recognize the Albanian-majority enclave on Serbia’s southern edge as an independent state. This is certain to enflame… the Kremlin”(Merritt). Some tension may be also noticed in the probability of NATO enlargement, including Georgia into the treaty organization and Russian frustration as it has erratic and unstable relations with its neighbor. So-called “rage” is rising in Russia when it comes to the major strategic issues and its interests cross the European path. Both Europe and Russia are vulnerable to extremism and social, political disorder. They are not quite interested in violence in the Middle East. But their relations are successively worsening and this situation dates back to Russian economic problems when the USSR broke down and European inability or unwillingness to notice Russian power and elasticity.
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The article under consideration Russia Makes First Fuel Shipment to Iran Nuclear Plant by Jim Heintz deals with the problem, which displayed itself as Russia started helping Iran in building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. America considers these actions of Moscow to be a part of uranium enrichment program. America disapproves of that and the US President commented on the situation concerning this nuclear plant the following way: “If the Iranians accept that uranium for civilian nuclear power, then there is no need for them to learn how to enrich”(Bush). It is officially said that Iran needs this plant only for civilian purposes, but still there are doubts as to its further application. According to Jim Heintz’s article, critics suspend that the nuclear power, which will be produced by the Bushehr nuclear plant, will be used for production of nuclear weapon. Russian officials assure mass media of the fact that they are glad this case is made public for all the fuel is under strict control and, what is more, its safety is guaranteed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Foreign Ministry also confirms that there is nothing to worry about as Tehran gave additional written bail, which deals with the Bushehr nuclear power usage for civilian needs only. But President Putin seems to have nothing to do with that he meanwhile informed his political party that surely he is not going to leave politics and as Heintz noticed “the Russia’s age of Putin is far from over”(Heintz). As according to the Constitution of Russia, Putin cannot be its president any longer, it is obvious that he will accept the post of Russia’s prime minister. The correspondent as well as a number of other representatives of this forth power, international mass media, emphasizes Putin’s and the Kremlin’s tight control over the press in Russia. It will make things go the way he expects them to be. Moreover, in November, the seventh in mass media there appeared data concerning Putin’s wish to possess special status. That is why his political party United Russia’s representative Abdul-Khakim Sultygov suggested securing some special status for V. Putin after the elections. He stated that they plan to call the Civil Council of Russia’s Nation and establish the institute of the leader as the main element of Russian power in the year 2008.
As for the article Russian Virtual Politics by Mark Leonard, it also proves Russian aggression and Putin himself as authoritarian regime keeper. Leonard states: “Putin will step down as president in 2008… only to reborn as prime minister on the crest of a wave of victory in December’s parliamentary vote” (Leonard). That is why political observers consider that Russia will turn from a presidential based system to parliamentary in which the head of the government power will prevail. V. Putin’s actions create a certain tension in Russian politics, but he got used to centralization of state power “to notch up a string of victories against enemies of the people” (Leonard). Oligarchs are not willing to lose their power and they are not in a hurry to part with Putin-era. A group of political consultants were called to help the Russian president to transform the nature of Russian politics, the politics, which was called virtual politics. Russian authorities concentrate more on their attitude to world events than on their own actions, they criticize without peculiar reasons for that. Russian authorities tend to proclaim that they develop democracy, but really they consolidate their power by all means. Mark Leonard also gives information about making “fake opposition” (Leonard), he says that the Kremlin has an overall control on the opposition political parties created in Russia; hence, they are no longer an independent opposition but they are under firm pressure of the authorities. In such a way Vladimir Putin has an opportunity to control all the parties of the country remaining under cover. This way he tries to conceal the autocratic regime of Russia and it is pretended that Russia is democratic and not so aggressive as it really is. Some observers say that he rules so that his interests are always the major criterion. Making a conclusion of his exposing article on Russian politics, Mark Leonard points out that nowadays a lot of European governments spend precious time arguing about Russian democracy phenomenon, the majority of which are not sure it exists in this country. But they would better work out in what way this politics can be successfully influenced.
Politics has always been a complicated matter with a number of subtle pitfalls, as interests of different countries cannot help but cross, but still they try to maintain good relations with each other. It is clearly seen that Putin’s regime has definite advantages, for example, improvement of living standard during his being in power. But his popularity among the people is not quite authentic. Russia presents itself as democratic, but in reality it is far from being so. One more evidence to this will be manifested after the presidential elections in Russia in the year 2008. The elections will probably secure the victory of Putin’s successor, that will mean the continuation of Russian political course. “Tempers are rising both in Russia and Europe” (Merritt), and their relations have worsened, because of their unwillingness to accept each other points of view and political course methods. Both the Russian Federation and the rest of the world, closely interacting have not contrived a consistent strategy of relationship. Regarding each others historic backgrounds as well as contemporary situational peculiarities, they should work out a definite and clearly stated frame of reference. This principle should deal with “shared security concerns”(Merritt), it will reduce the shadow problems which may be sharpened in future and lead to inevitable consequences.
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