Opinion | Welcome to the new Cold War

With the invasion of Ukraine, Putin has officially declared that the arrival of a new Cold War.


Seth Harrison/The Journal News /

Several hundred protestors opposed to the Russian invasion gather near the Russian consulate in Manhattan Feb. 24, 2022. The protestors were enraged over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Seth Harrison/The Journal News)

Peter Anders, Opinions Columnist

It’s a common theme in works of fiction that another Cold War between global superpowers would occur, after the previous one ended with the failure of the Soviet Union and ushered in an age of American dominance.

As Russia invades Ukraine, it seems the new Cold War will be between the democracies of the West and the regimes of China and Russia.

Now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a full-scale attack against Ukraine, he has officially started the second Cold War: now between the Western alliance and Moscow, with its new ally in Beijing.

What Putin hopes to gain from this is something of which even military experts are unsure. If he expects this invasion to cause ruptures in NATO immediately and lead the European and Western allies to drift apart, he seems to have miscalculated to a devastating degree.

NATO, once seen as an alliance seeking some form of relevancy, seems to have been galvanized and almost resurrected because of this crisis. It is seemingly more relevant and united than it has been in quite some time.

If Putin expects this war not to hurt Russia in some capacity, he is also hopelessly naive, as the Western powers seem to have an endless number of sanctions ready to be placed upon the Kremlin, which will hurt the economy and thus the Russian people.

If he thinks the Ukrainian people will welcome his army with open arms and accept Russia as their new rulers, he also may not be understanding the the people of Ukraine, or their culture, very well.

But it also may be the case that Putin is not what he once was. Previously considered one of the most intelligent of the world leaders, his increasing paranoia and age may, along with the pandemic, have driven his sanity to a breaking point.

One only has to listen to the televised speech Putin gave on Feb. 21 — which comes off like a speech written by a man who has fallen down a rabbit hole of conspiracies and pseudo facts. Putin’s inability to read what his people want, and how to communicate with them, may be a byproduct of this.

Those in Russia live in fear of speaking their mind. Putin’s inner circle seems terrified of him, as the ex-KGB man seems to grow more paranoid by the second. Opposition at home is always a possibility.

Alexi Navalny, one of Russia’s loudest critics — who Putin had arrested and who currently resides in Vladimir Oblast — spoke out against the war Thursday. Navalny, speaking from prison where he is currently on trial, said the attack against Ukraine is a tactic by Putin to distract from real issues in Russia.

The risk is that, if Putin blunders his next moves in Ukraine badly enough, he may have forces at home to contest with as well as the West.

Many Russians have taken to the street since Thursday to protest Putin’s invasion, and thousands have been arrested.

Beijing has voiced support of Moscow and opposition to NATO, but the degree of support it is willing to provide is unknown, especially if it goes against its own self-interest. And Asia’s economy has already shown some signs of suffering from this crisis as it is.

Putin does not seem to care what this does to Russia’s reputation when it goes back on its own word, as he promised not to invade Ukraine, yet now he has. How are other nations to take what Russia says at face value as long as Putin is in charge in the future, when it is shown to be so untrustworthy?

All of this is to beg the question: Why should we, as Americans, care about this? The reality is that we live in an interconnected world. The crisis in Ukraine will affect the price you pay for gas right off the bat, not to mention the possible effects it could have on global markets. Inflation will also be affected.

Make no mistake: this will matter to our daily lives, not just for those of us who have relatives and friends who live in Ukraine. The world has changed, and a new Cold War between the West and the East has kicked off once again.

Things will not go back to how they were before. Putin has shown a sense of desperation previously uncharacteristic of him, and there is no indication it will ever recede. Ukrainian and Russian delegations will meet for talks Monday — but Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he does not believe these talks will end the war. How this plays out is anyone’s guess, but it is time to acknowledge that the new Cold War is finally here.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.