USA vs Russia: Are We Entering A New Cold War?

It was the most sophisticated attack on America since the Cold War In October 2014, over 76 million American households and 7 million businesses were infiltrated by Russian government hackers

It wasn’t until 6 months later that the true extent of these intrusions was revealed Russian hackers had managed to access a highly classified file from the multinational banking company, JP Morgan, compromising the names, addresses and phone numbers of millions of customers And it wasn’t just the general public affected In a six-month-long investigation, the FBI uncovered that Russia penetrated restricted parts of the White House computer system, causing unforeseen system shutdowns Once in, hackers seized a State Department email account and installed malware on the system, gaining access to Barack Obama’s private work schedule

This, plus recent events like the Ukraine crisis, have caused rising tensions between these old rivals, increasing suspicions that the world is on the brink of ‘Cold War 2’ The White House downplayed Russia’s cyber attacks, claiming that immediate measures were taken to mitigate the hackings, and that no private data was seriously compromised But former ambassador and political expert Nicolas Burns believes that what we’re seeing could be the start of a new era of hostility A Cold War, by definition, is a state of political aggression between 2 or more countries, characterised by propaganda, intimidation, and any other measures that threaten warfare, but doesn’t involve direct military engagement In the last decade, a string of ominous events have unfolded: In 2010, the FBI arrested 10 Russian agents on charges of carrying out long-term, deep-cover assignments

Disguised as American citizens, these undercover spies communicated confidential information to Russia’s foreign intelligence service since the mid-1990s, using classic tools like invisible ink, radio transmissions, and cryptography software Both countries have accelerated production of nuclear weapons USA has raised its annual budget for its nuclear arsenal from $16 billion to $20 billion, but military officials have reported that already Russia possesses 8500 nuclear warheads – that’s 1000 more than the United States And Russian president Vladimir Putin has openly threatened that if America continues to interfere in Russia’s affairs, then he is prepared to take nuclear action In the mean time, Putin continues to breach international law with repeated airspace violations, causing at least 300 scrambles from the West to intercept Russian aircrafts that have come too close to restricted airspace of America’s allies

The Western media’s disdain for Russian policy is also no secret The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused America of producing ‘Russophobic lampoons’, which it argues falsely portray Russia as a pantomime villain, and not telling their side of the story The last time a non-combative conflict of this scale occurred was between the United Sates and Soviet Union, from 1945 to 1989 During this tense period, these 2 superpowers engaged in espionage, an arms race, and proxy wars like Vietnam and Korea, in opposition of each other’s political systems: communism and capitalism In the 1990s, following the Post-Cold War settlement, Russia and USA reconciled, paving the way for trade agreements and diplomatic co-operation, notably during the 2003 Israel-Palestine peace process

But Putin’s growing ambition to reunify the former Soviet states has revived some bitter tensions History shares some unnerving similarities with today’s global affairs But this time around, Russia and America have a new weapon at their disposal: digital technology This new form of espionage has revolutionised traditional spy tactics Nations now can now destroy their opponents on the electronic battlefield, meddling with currency, trade, and hacking private files

In April 2014, Secretary Of State John Kerry announced that the United States ‘will not hesitate to use 21st century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th Century behaviour” And it appears that Russia won’t hesitate from retaliating, either When Putin attempted to annex the Ukraine in August 2014, America strongly criticised Russia’s aggression, imposing sanctions and positioning US troops on the Russian border Journalists have speculated that Russia’s cyber-attack was revenge against the US Government’s economic sanctions and interference In the big hack, Russia may have attempted to steal confidential information to glean what they can from a country that they accuse of being highly intrusive

Russia is, in effect, returning the favour without committing to all-out war This is the essence of a Cold War

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