The resurgence of Russia and its implications

There is a lesson to be learnt by Muslims and their quest to re-establish the Khilafah State in the reappearance of Russia on the political map of the world. Russia at the beginning of the 1990’s was a defeated nation. The Soviet Union, which made Russia a superpower, collapsed and left behind it a nation, which for the next decade was ruined, by corruption and the unleashing of Capitalist forces. It lost vast amounts of territory, its economy was in ruins and its military was severely weakened. Much of Russia’s natural wealth, including oil and gas, were sold off to private and foreign companies for a pitiful amount of money. Yet today, under Vladimir Putin, Russia is now pursuing an aggressive nationalism and foreign policy and is once again beginning to fulfil its interests. This new foreign policy has brought Russia in to political conflict with the West, and has brought with it the possibility of a new cold war.

The latest deterioration in the relationship began with an increase in bitterness between Russia and Britain. In January 2006, Russia accused [1] Britain of colluding with Russian NGO’s and spying in Russia. Though Britain denied this, this was interpreted by analysts as the start of the Russian program of reducing foreign influence in Russia and a more assertive posture by the Russian government, regardless if this case was true or not. In September 2006, Russia began to move [2] against the part British owned Shell Company and its oil and gas interests in Siberia, which were worth $20 billion. In what could be seen as a response to Russian pressure against British oil and gas interests, the murder case of Alexander Litvinenko began with the poisoning [3] of the former KGB spy in November 2006. This incident was used by Britain to increase international pressure on Russia, and to inform Russia of Britain’s political power in the world. On this issue Russia denied any responsibility, though separately it responded to this latest development by again attacking [4] British energy interests. As Alexander Litvinenko died and Britain increased media pressure on Russia, Russia by December 2006 had succeeded [5] in forcing Shell to hand over the controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 scheme to Gazprom, the Russian energy company.

As insults and accusations continued to be traded between these two nations over the Litvinenko murder, another rivalry was reignited. In January 2007, Vladimir Putin declared [6] open opposition to the plans of America to install parts of a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Though Russia has done this in the past, its newfound sense of power and confidence was openly displayed at a security summit held in Munich in February 2007. Putin openly and harshly [7] attacked America for its colonialism in the world and declared it as not only a threat to Russia but also to global security. By undertaking these actions Russia re-established itself as a player in the world. It began to engage with America on the issue of Kosovo’s independence [8], as it sought to defend Serbia with whom it has religious and ethnic ties. By striving to block Kosovo’s independence, Russia is seeking to preserve Serbia and hence its own influence in the region. When these Russian links to the Balkans are recognised, it becomes clear that the reason America and its NATO allies attacked Serbia in 1999 was to break Russia’s grip on the region by weakening her ally, and not to protect the Muslims of Kosovo as was claimed. These actions of America are a part of its ongoing plan to contain and eventually break Russia in to pieces so that it may vanquish its enemy forever and take its immense resources for itself.

However Russia is using various styles to reassert its power. In May 2007, Russia for the first time in many years, flew [9] long-range bombers almost in to British airspace. This was a practice common in the Cold War, when Russia would test the defences of its opponents. Following this, in the next two months Russia managed to force the British oil firm BP to sell [10] its controlling stake in the giant Kovykta gas field to the Russian State-owned Gazprom, thus further increasing its grip on its own natural resources. Also in June 2007, Russia revealed the true nature of the American missile defence shield by offering [11] to help the America build and maintain the system. America was silent on this joint proposal by Russia, thus showing that the missile defence shield is indeed aimed also at Russia. The led Russia to announce [12] in July 2007 that it would end its participation in a key European weapons treaty. In early August there was a spate of tit for tat diplomat expulsions [13] between Russia and Britain as their relationship continued to worsen.

All of this has resulted in Russia moving to expand its military might. In August 2007, Russia conducted [14] large-scale war games with China and the Central Asian states under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). These games were widely interpreted as a warning sent by both Russia and China to America and as a show of strength against the Americans. Putin also ordered the resumption [15] by Russian long-range bombers of patrols around the world, with the bombers being armed with nuclear missiles. These bombers will now resume the Soviet practice of flying in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As a reminder of the Cold War, the Russian bombers also flew close to the US military base of Guam in the Pacific. The latest development is that Russia has announced [16] an increased defence budget of $200 billion to modernise its military forces.

It is clear to see that Russia is once again in conflict with the West on a range of political and economic fronts. Upon analysis of the events up to date, it is apparent that this is not a new fight. Rather this is an old struggle with a new reality, with each nation having its actions dictated by its own interests. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia became weak because it lost a political system to guide it. For the next 16 years Russia was in turmoil until Vladimir Putin succeeded in restoring stability to Russia’s political landscape. Russia growing power and influence is directly related to the fact that under Putin, the power and authority of the central government has been increasing as decision-making has becoming more centralised. It has been further consolidated by a worldwide boom in oil and gas prices, which have helped to stabilise Russia’s economy and provide it with funds to modernise. Russia knows that to be heard politically in the world you need to have a strong military, and it is due to this it has been upgrading its armed forces.

It is clear from even a brief study of the reality today that the hearts of the world nations are divided. Each follows their own interests, and uses the political tools, influence and natural resources at its disposal to achieve its objectives. As Russia was driving out British oil companies, it was inviting [17] the French oil company Total to work with it. Russia is using its natural resources to divide Western nations and to break their unity and resolve against it.

The re-emergence of Russia as a world power is good news for the re-establishment of the imminent Khilafah. Though Russia is also a tyrant nation, which has shed much blood of innocent Muslims in Chechnya and other places, its rise will serve to break America’s grip on the world. Adding to this the rise of China, the world is moving away from a situation where America was reigning supreme to a multi-polar world where many powers serve to balance and limit each other. Previously the nations of the world could be directed by America in a certain direction, now they will be spilt between the various camps, with their interests also being split. This would mean that not only would any future Khilafah State be in a better position to negotiate, form alliances/treaties and play these states against each other but also that these states would have to divert their attention and resources away from the Khilafah and to each other.

This is the reality of the world, where only interests dictate the actions of States. There is no such thing as permanent friends or enemies for a State. It is a myth that any future Khilafah State would be attacked by all the nations of the world as soon as it is re-established, by Allah (swt) leave. The nations of the world will be forced to recognise it as a legitimate State, if for nothing else but for the western nations to continue their business and trade, as well as exploring new opportunities in the Khilafah. Just as today Russia is projecting its profile via its immense resources to raise its political position in the world despite nations like America detesting it, so too will the Khilafah perform similar political manoeuvres to achieve its objectives.

Originally Published Oct 2007