Mutually-assured (economic) destruction

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at Belfast International Airport on June 17, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Russian president Vladimir Putin's spokesperson said Friday that despite "extremely deep disagreements" with the U.S., he believes that a new Cold War "has not started and I would like to believe it will not start."

Dmitry Peskov, speaking at the opening of the Paralympic Games in Russia, added: "Extremely deep disagreements of a conceptual nature between Russia and the European Union and the United States have already been registered."

"It sure feels like a Cold War at the moment if you listen to the rhetoric on both sides," said Angela Stent, director of Georgetown University's Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies. "But of course this isn't a Cold War. This isn't a fight to the death between socialism and capitalism. We don't have our nuclear weapons targeted at Russia."

And yet, Russia's military has taken control of the Crimean peninsula, and Moscow has threatened to send the military into other parts of Ukraine. 

"The interdependence makes it in some ways less likely that you're going to have a Cold War-style indefinite stalemate," added Romesh Ratnesar, deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek. "On the other hand, it makes for more vulnerabilities on both sides."

But "interdependence" conjures up visions of the old "mutually-assured destruction" fears of the actual Cold War.

"Because Russia is now part of the global economy, all of these territorial and strategic issues play out very differently than they did at the time when the Soviet Union was isolated from the global economy," said Georgetown's Stent. "Funnily enough, we're now seeing a new theory of deterrence. Economic deterence. Mutually-assured economic destruction."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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