Since 2017, there has been an ever-growing trend of suspicions over Russian meddling into different countries’ internal affairs. The centrality that Russia has gained on the world stage gives rise to the question about whether it has become the most powerful force within the international community. Is history repeating itself by mirroring the rise of the USSR during the cold-war era?
Just last week, news broke out of Russian-trained mercenaries supporting the Bosnian Serbs’ movement for separation from Bosnia. This is despite the fact that the UN General Assembly has already categorically prohibited every state from organising mercenaries and making incursions into territories of another state.
The reason behind Russia’s support for the Bosnian Serb separatists is said to be owing to the fact that the Bosnian government is seeking to join the EU and the Nato. This is not the only Russian attempt at halting a European country from forming transatlantic and Western alliances. In recent history, Russia was implicated in an attempted coup in Montenegro whereby mercenaries were plotting to assassinate the Montenegrin leader Milo Dukanovic since the country was contemplating Nato membership.
Similarly, Russia’s involvement in Ukraine has also led to severe unrest within the former USSR state following the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych, by a pro-EU movement called ‘Euromaidan’. It was these tensions between Russia and Ukraine that led to the former annexing Crimea in 2014 as well as occupying more Ukrainian land in the Donbass region – in violation of the UN Charter. But such serious violations of international law have hardly resulted in any penalty. It appears that Russia has managed to place itself outside the reach of international law; a position whichuntil very recently was enjoyed solely by the US.
Conversely, Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council ensures that Russia can veto any condemnation directed at its allies. This explains why Bashar al-Assad has managed to escape accountability since Russia has been supporting the Syrian president’s regime for years. It has even admitted to militarily targeting rebels fighting against forces loyal to Assad in the region.
Kremlin related interference in various countries has now become a commonplace feature of global affairs, starting with Donald Trump’s presidential election victory. As soon as Trump assumed office, news broke of his administration’s collusion with the Russian government; this led to resignations of key members of Trump’s presidential campaign including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. The matter is still under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
In addition to this, there have also been reports of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK suggesting that fake accounts were made on social media websites to spread false propaganda and influence the referendum’s outcome. Similarly, the recent elections held in Germany were said to have been influenced by Russia to help bolster the campaign of the right-wing, anti-immigrant party, the AfD.
It has very recently been announced that Russia-backed Czech president, Milos Zeman, has managed to win the highest number of votes in the first round of the ongoing presidential elections in the country. With Zeman’s anti-immigration and anti-EU stance, it seems quite predictable what the outcome of the elections would be if Russia is dictating its course. What can safely be said is that Russia has emerged as an influential power within world politics and that does not seem to be good news at all.
The writer is an advocate of the high court.