The Policy of Containment to Counter Russia – Will It Be A Success?

The war between Russia and Ukraine is happening now. The world is taking all the measures to prevent Russia’s attack with economic and international actions. 

The US is now moving towards its old strategy “ The policy of containment” in order to counter Russia. With the violent Russian attack on Ukraine last week, President Joe Biden had clearly mentioned his intention to move towards the policy of containment. 

But the question is, will it be a success if the USA follows the policy of containment? What are the challenges to the implementation of the policy of containment? Let’s explore.

What is the Policy of Containment?

In simple form, the policy of Containment is the foreign policy strategy that was followed by the USA during the cold war period under President Harry Truman, as part of the Truman Doctrine.

The policy of containment suggests isolating and containing communism, without spreading it around the world. Under this strategy, the USA provided military, economic, and political assistance to democratic countries which were under the threat of Russian communism.

The USA believed that once a country embraces communism, the other surrounding countries will also fall to communism like a row of dominoes. This view was known as the Domino theory, which was the worst fear of the USA during the cold war era. As a result, the USA tried its best to counter Russia.  

The policy of containment was initially discovered by George F. Kennan in 1947 in his “long telegram” and later, Kennan published it as “X article”

Assisting Greece and Turkey by providing $400 million, the Marshall plan for assisting western Europe, US involvement in the Korean war in 1950 and the Vietnam war, and the Cuban missile crisis are the incidents that used the policy of containment practically.

Challenges

How far is the policy of containment relevant today? What are the challenges to implementing the policy of containment?

Basically, the policy of containment is a little bit outdated in the present context. One of the reasons for this is the interdependency between Russia and the world.

Russia is vital to the global economy, especially in Europe. Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer, second-biggest exporter of crude oil, and world’s largest exporter of natural gas, which is really important for people’s day-to-day life. The EU gets nearly half of its oil demand from Russia.

Both Russia and Ukraine export wheat and corn which are needed for the food supply of the world.

Isolating Russia by implementing the policy of containment can not be a solution for the issue because the world is depending on Russia and Ukraine because the two countries maintain the world’s most needed stuff like food supply and energy supply. The world is already experiencing a hard time with the pandemic period in terms of the economy. 

The USA can provide economic assistance for Europe which did in history. But that is only temporary relief for the world. Cutting Russia from the International stage is like digging a pit itself.

Secondly, the policy of containment is outdated due to the Russian capability in the cyber arena. Russian security services are well capable in the cyber arena and have a dark history with cyber attacks. Russia launched a destructive cyberattack on Ukraine known as the NotPetya attack, which targeted the Ukrainian government, and financial and energy institutions. Also, the colonial pipeline hack in 2021 that targeted the digital system of gas line pipe systems in the US is another example of Russian cyber attacks. 

In order to reply to the sanctions imposed by the west, Russia may attempt a well-planned cyber attack. Overall, the policy of containment can be difficult to implement with new trends like cyberattacks.

Thirdly, the Dragon factor is another challenge for implementing the policy of containment. The role of China and its relation with Russia have made China the best hope that Russia has. However, China’s reaction is very important here. 

During the last voting of the UNSC resolution on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China, India, and United Arab Emirates chose to abstain. Also, during the Munich Security Conference, China’s foreign minister said that the Ukrainian borders need to be respected. But, with the overwhelming sanctions of the West towards Russia, China has opposed the so-called illegal and unilateral sanctions and will continue trade with Moscow. 

Trade between Russia and China increased to $146.9 billion last year but it is less than the Chinese trade with the US and EU. However, as the world’s second-largest economy, China as the counterpart of Russia is a big challenge for implementing the policy of containment.

In conclusion, even if President Biden targets Russia with the Policy of Containment, it needs to be updated with the new trends in international politics. 

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