Diplomacy Being Ignored by US & Russia!

Linda Thomas Greenfield

United States and Russia seem engaged in diplomatic tiff over yet another issue, regarding who is responsible for the Moscow concert hall terror attack. US states that as per its longstanding “duty to warn” policy, it had warned Russia a month ago about the “possibility” of a planned terrorist attack in Moscow. The underlying diplomatic message for the world at large is apparently that Russia did not heed to United States’ warning. And of course Washington’s “stand” about the super power having learned about such a “possibility” through probably its own sources. Naturally, USA wants all to know that it “knew” about this attack, had warned Russia and thus has far higher diplomatic stature than others, including its key rivals. Of course, it is accepted that United States is the only super power at present. But that’s a part of new diplomatic “tiff” being displayed by old rivals, USA and Russia. At least, prospects of Russia accepting United States’ view regarding who was probably responsible for this attack seem limited. This is suggested by Russia pointing to Ukraine’s possible involvement in the terror attack. Ukraine of course has denied this. 

What does this chain of claims, blames and so forth, involving key global powers really suggest? There is no denying, United States is not at all pleased about several developments on the Russian front. Prospects of Russia abandoning its Ukraine-pursuit are hardly visible. Ties between Russia, China and Iran don’t show any sign of weakening. Washington has not succeeded in securing diplomatic isolation of either of these countries even from Arab countries USA maintains close ties with. Similarly, it would be erroneous to assume that Russia is pleased with any “diplomacy” being displayed by USA towards it or is likely to be, at least for some time.

In essence, if any diplomacy was actually being exercised by either or both United States and Russia in being serious about even considering genuine moves to resolve their differences over Ukraine-crisis, the situation would be different. In essence, diplomacy is hardly, rather not at all, being accorded any significance. It is indeed tragic that diplomatic lapse of this nature is being committed, that too with total awareness, by two key global powers. Give it a thought, barely any concern (or none at all) seems to be displayed for lives being lost, destruction caused and so forth by continuity of Ukraine-crisis. Now, what would be the great idea of considering, negotiating and/or reaching out any diplomatic deal after probably having exercised and/or witnessing severe damages caused by war because of Ukraine-crisis? From no angle, would that diplomacy be considered as wise or even really diplomatic. Concerned powers would be considered genuinely diplomatic if they choose to consider deliberations across the table prior to their having deprived thousands of their lives, dreams and a lot more amidst bombed down buildings.

Seriously, when countries at war seem being bent on expecting opponents to view the situation from their angle, it is equivalent to almost totally ignoring diplomacy. Though USA and Russia are not directly involved in Ukraine-crisis, Washington’s backing for Kyiv and also for continuance of the war compels one to view it so. Just as USA wants Russia to agree to its stand, the latter is rigid about its own stand being accepted towards Ukraine-crisis. Clearly, a similar diplomatic or more precisely “non-diplomatic” trait binds Israel’s pursuit of war against Palestinians. Israel expects the world at large to support and accept its war-moves. Of course, Israel is succeeding in having its way because of strong support of United States. Irrespective of what be “diplomatic logic” of United States, the superpower’s supply of weapons to Israel together with “diplomatic” favor displayed for Tel Aviv at various levels are hardly suggestive of wise diplomacy being pursued. Diplomatic moves are supposed to be directed towards bringing conflicts to end and not promote their continuance. Handing out aid to victims, irrespective of their quality and quantity, can hardly be viewed as great diplomatic gestures when and if their aggressors are militarily supported. What kind of diplomacy can this be viewed as?  Hardly diplomatic.

Ironically, USA and Russia’s diplomacy following the recent concert-hall-attack in Moscow bears a little relevance beyond that of these powers’ bilateral ties. Bilaterally, their difference on who they view/suspect as allegedly responsible for the terrorism is at least suggestive of their choosing to turn their backs towards each other. Cold diplomacy of this nature may probably be viewed as shades better than aggressive/war-like attitude with third nations being the worst sufferers, as is the case of Ukraine and from what Afghanistan has not recovered yet.

Their differences over the alleged identity of those responsible for terrorist attack on concert hall in Moscow extend beyond their bilateral diplomatic animosity. Yes, this refers to United States bloc’s repetitive insistence on the terrorists being allegedly linked with ISIL’s Afghan branch, also viewed as ISKP (ISIS-K), that is the Islamic State in Khorasan Province. This group has allegedly, as per western reports, claimed responsibility for the attack. First, how can any “terrorist” group’s claim be viewed as genuine unless there is authentic proof as well as investigation stating it? Secondly, this scribe has repeatedly drawn attention to lack of credibility in easily according religious identity to any terrorist group and/or attack simply because a terrorist group states so? How can “religious” identity be accepted and spread through official authorities and media by relying on what alleged terrorists say? They (the terrorist) would do so to apparently accord “religious legitimacy” to their criminal activities. But why should their stand be accepted as genuine? It is equivalent to aiding their terrorist designs.

In the case of Moscow-attack, Russia has chosen to blame Ukraine to apparently “justify” its moves against this country, irrespective of whether Moscow agrees to terrorists’ “religious” identity or not. With respect to US, the superpower’s “claim” about their identity and having warned Russia about the attack’s possibility seem strongly directed to displaying its “intelligence” prowess and its suspicions regarding the alleged terrorist group.  

Considering rather restrained diplomacy being actually exercised by United States over what the superpower doesn’t agree to, what can be said about Washington’s decision to abstain from United Security Council (UNSC)’s resolution for a two-week ceasefire in Gaza, passed this week (March 25)?  Spontaneous reaction viewed this as suggestive of a “diplomatic” rift between United States and Israel, further supported by cancellation of an Israeli delegation’s visit to US. However, what cannot be ignored is US administration official’s clarification that there would be no change in relations with Israel because of the resolution. It would have no impact on US supply of arms to Israel, that is continuance of latter’s war strikes. Think, in this context, what can say about United States’ UN diplomacy, towards Israel, Palestine and above all, humanitarian-issue? Be it Palestine or Ukraine, there is not much difference between the so-called diplomatic pursuits of United States and Russia. Only war-like and moves supporting war are being considered as well as resorted to by both with even cold diplomacy being totally ignored. Nevertheless, one is prompted to hope that perhaps Moscow concert hall attack and United States’ abstention at UNSC vote on ceasefire may serve as a wake-up call for Russia as well as Israel regarding their respective strikes against Ukraine and Gaza. Will they? Till the United States chooses to be more decisive about giving greater importance to diplomacy on both fronts, chances are remote, with the weak ones continuing to be worst sufferers!

Nilofar Suhrawardy is a senior journalist and writer with specialization in communication studies and nuclear diplomacy. She has come out with several books. These include:– Modi’s Victory, A Lesson for the Congress…? (2019); Arab Spring, Not Just a Mirage! (2019), Image and Substance, Modi’s First Year in Office (2015) and Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp, In the Name of Indian Secularism (2006).    


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