Authored by Sergei Markov, originally posted at The Moscow Times,
Today, as a result of the Ukrainian crisis, U.S.-Russian relations have hit their lowest point since the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 or of Czechoslovakia in 1969 — or perhaps even since they bottomed out during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Crimean crisis, which began as a power struggle between the ruling authorities in Kiev and opposition forces, transformed in to an attempt to overthrow Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by pro-Western and nationalist opposition forces with the support of the U.S. and European Union.
The crisis escalated into a conflict between the U.S. and Russia after the West supported a coup, then lied by violating the Feb. 21 agreement when it recognized the formation of a new and illegitimate government of extremists.
This conflict has the potential of sparking a new Cold War — something I never thought could happen in modern times since I believed it would have to be rooted in ideological differences. Instead, Moscow and Washington have billions of dollars of economic interests at stake, making this a geopolitical rather than an ideological Cold War.
Moscow does not see the revolution in Ukraine as an attempt to create a more democratic or law-based society. Instead, it sees the events in Kiev as an attempt to make Ukraine as anti-Russian as possible. The new government represents a minority of the Ukrainian population. It wants to suppress the Russian-speaking majority and violate their right to representation by holding unfair elections on May 25.
Moreover, U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel deceived President Vladimir Putin when they pursuaded him to convince Yanukovych to refrain from using force to quell the Maidan, and then to sign the Feb. 21 agreement — which they refused to uphold. Instead, they told Russia to accept the new reality in Ukraine. But why should Moscow accept that reality when it is directed against Russia, democracy and human rights?
What did Russia do to become the focus of so much animosity? Is it because it prevented the West from bombing Syria? Because it persuaded Yanukovych not to sign the Association Agreement — a treaty of little real importance to the EU? Those are trivial reasons for starting a new Cold War.
It seems that the West simply does not like Putin. He is a huge obstacle who prevents them from achieving global hegemony. For this reason alone he must be broken. Nobody in Moscow has any doubt that what happened in Ukraine will be repeated in Moscow in two or three years. Without Putin, there will be few world leaders left who have the power or courage to stand up to Washington. When this happens, the entire world will have to quickly accept the new reality.