Foreign Policy Blogs

Russia – Rising or Falling?


Is Russia on the rise or in decline? Does Moscow and its regional and global ambitions pose a threat to U.S. interests? In dueling analyses, Sean Goforth and Andrew Swift debate whether Russia is an over-hyped power or gaining ground and steadily tilting the balance of power in its direction.

Goforth argues that “Russia undermines America’s waning preeminence by fostering close ties with regimes like Iran and Venezuela.” While he says Russia’s economy is reeling from the Great Recession and there is a small possibility that Moscow will engage in direct military conflict with the United States or a powerful European country, he still believes “Russia subverts Western order.”

“In its own backyard the Kremlin now asserts ‘privileged interests’ not just along Russian borders but ‘elsewhere.’ Translation: Russia now claims a sphere of influence that overlaps NATO. Such rhetoric is slowly materializing thanks to Moscow’s gas bypass procedure. Subject to ongoing gas cut-offs, Western-leaning governments in Eastern Europe will be left in the cold to endure the brunt of Russian expansionism.”

On the other hand, Swift writes that while “Russia today is clearly a more capable and influential country than it was in 1999…that’s not saying much. The United States is under no threat from Russia, neither militarily nor economically. The Russian economy – state run, infested with corruption, and dependent on commodity trading – more closely resembles a third-world country than the modern, democratic West.”

“We should stop treating Russia as the country we imagine – fierce and overpowering – and start treating it as the country it is – surrounded by an economically strong and secure Europe to its west, and a rising, assertive China to its east, and dealing with a faltering economy at home.”

Cartoon from KAL.



David Kampf

David Kampf is a writer and researcher based in Washington, DC. He is also a columnist for Asia Chronicle. He analyzes international politics, foreign policy and economic development, and his pieces have appeared in various publications, including China Rights Forum, African Security Review and World Politics Review. Recently, he directed communications for the U.S. Agency for International Development and President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Rwanda. Prior to living in East Africa, he worked in China and studied in Brazil, India and South Africa.

Area of Focus
International Politics; Foreign Affairs; Economic Development