Cold War Strategies Are Back in Russia's Playbook

tags: Cold War, Russia, Putin



Alexander Golts is deputy editor of the online newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal.

The theory that history unfolds first as a tragedy and then repeats itself as a farce is not always true. Sometimes, history repeats its tragedy all over again, and with the same terrible consequences.

Thirty years ago, a Soviet fighter jet shot down a South Korean airliner that had strayed into Soviet airspace. U.S. intelligence presented incontrovertible evidence to then-President Ronald Reagan: a recording of the conversation between the pilots.

Reagan called the act a massacre. The world shuddered in horror. Prior to that, the international community considered Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" a bit of a rhetorical exaggeration. After the deaths of hundreds of civilians, that assessment seemed all too accurate.

Nobody bothered listening to the head of the Russian General Staff who, jabbing his pointer at explanatory graphics, attempted to prove that Soviet intelligence had mistaken the Boeing for a U.S. spy plane that had cleverly hidden behind the exterior of a passenger plane. Overnight, the Soviet superpower turned into an international pariah. 

Now the situation is repeating with extraordinary precision, right up to the press briefing with Russian military officials zealously putting forward two mutually exclusive theories. According to one, Ukrainian storm troopers shot down the airplane, and according to the other, Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles are to blame. The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded that the international community discuss the cacophony of unending and presumptuous “questions” put forward by the Defense Ministry, insisting that Moscow receive information on all air-launched and surface-to-air missiles in the Ukrainian Army’s possession...




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