Russia, a rogue nation?

Russia made headlines for all the wrong reasons this week, when a clutch of countries led by the U.S. expelled more than 100 of its diplomats and intelligence officers over suspicion that the Kremlin was behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian spy and defector to the U.K., Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury on March 4. Besides the U.S., 14 member-states of the European Union, including Germany, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Latvia, undertook coordinated expulsions, with Australia also joining them. In a sense this move, seen as the most dramatic, concerted such purge since the Cold War years, has been coming for some time. Last week the U.K. led the way when it expelled 23 Russian diplomats, but the week before that the U.S. had slapped Russia with sanctions against multiple individuals and entities for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through covert online propaganda, including fake news. Beyond these specific charges lie other alleged violations: in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump’s senior-most ground commander has accused Russia of arming Taliban militants; on the North Korean crisis Mr. Trump mentioned in January that Russia was helping Pyongyang avoid UN sanctions; and the EU last year voted to extend into 2018 sanctions that prohibit its businesses from investing in Crimea. Has Russia truly gone rogue, and is this its grand strategy to reclaim its superpower status? The answer is yes and no. To an extent the U.S. response, significant though it may appear on the surface, signals to Russia an inconsistent application of any principles of bilateral and multilateral engagement. Scarcely a week ago, Mr. Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election, apparently against the advice of senior White House officials, and this drew sharp criticism even from fellowRepublicans. He apparently did not deem the nerve agent attack a subject deserving of mention on that phone call. Yet, shortly thereafter he replaced National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, a long-standing Russia hawk. What would concern democracy-minded Americans is that the expulsion of Russian diplomats might serve as an easy distraction device in the ongoing investigation into whether Mr. Trump or his associates colluded with Russian entities to influence the 2016 presidential election. Whatever the true intentions of the current U.S. administration are, it would be naive to assume that Moscow will miss any opportunity to tighten its strategic grip on global geopolitics, whether in terms of influencing foreign elections, undermining Western coalition forces in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, or shadow manoeuvres that exacerbate instability in the context of North Korea and Iran. Contrarily, it is imperative that the West, perhaps led by the U.S. or the EU, find some means to bring Mr. Putin to the negotiating table, the corollary of which is that he must eschew his current preference for political subversion.



1) Clutch

Meaning: A person’s power or control, especially when regarded as inescapable.

Example: “Tom had fallen into Amanda’s clutches”

Synonyms: Power, Control

2) Concerted

Meaning: Jointly arranged or carried out; coordinated.

Example: “a concerted attempt to preserve religious unity”

Synonyms: Joint, United

Antonyms: Separate, Individual

3) Purge

Meaning: An abrupt or violent removal of a group of people.

Example: “the savagery of government’s political purges”

Synonyms: Removal, Expulsion

4) Cold War

Meaning: The state of hostility that existed between the Soviet bloc countries and the Western powers from 1945 to 1990.

Example: The Cold War.

5) Slapped

Meaning: A gentle warning or punishment.

Example: The police officer gave Minna a slap on the wrist for not wearing her seat belt.

6) Covert

Meaning: Not openly acknowledged or displayed.

Example: “covert operations against the dictatorship”

Synonyms: Secret, Furtive

Antonyms: Overt, Above board

7) Propaganda

Meaning: Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

Example: “he was charged with distributing enemy propaganda”

Synonyms: Information, Promotion

8) Rogue

Meaning: A person or thing that behaves in an aberrant or unpredictable way, typically with damaging or dangerous effects.

Example: “he hacked into data and ran rogue programs”

9) Reclaim

Meaning: Redeem (someone) from a state of vice; reform.

Example: “societies for reclaiming beggars and prostitutes”

Synonyms: Save, Rescue

Antonyms: Abandon

10) Inconsistent

Meaning: Not compatible or in keeping with.

Example: “he had done nothing inconsistent with his morality”

Synonyms: Incompatible with, Conflicting with

Antonyms: Consistent

11) Fellow

Meaning: Sharing a particular activity, quality, or condition with someone or something.

Example: “they urged the troops not to fire on their fellow citizens”

12) Deem

Meaning: Regard or consider in a specified way.

Example: “the event was deemed a great success”

Synonyms: Consider, Reckon

13) Hawk

Meaning: A person who advocates an aggressive or warlike policy, especially in foreign affairs.

Example: “severe limits were put on the peace plan by party hawks”

14) Intentions

Meaning: The action or fact of intending.

Example: “intention is just one of the factors that will be considered”

Synonyms: Intent, Design

Antonyms: Accident

15) Manoeuvres

Meaning: A carefully planned or cunning scheme or action.

Example: “shady financial manoeuvres”

Synonyms: Tactic, Gambit

16) Exacerbate

Meaning: Make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse.

Example: “the exorbitant cost of land in urban areas only exacerbated the problem”

Synonyms: Aggravate, Worsen

Antonyms: Calm, Reduce

17) Imperative

Meaning: An essential or urgent thing.

Example: “free movement of labour was an economic imperative”

Synonyms: Important, Essential

18) Corollary

Meaning: A direct or natural consequence or result.

Example: “the huge increases in unemployment were the corollary of expenditure cuts”

Synonyms: Consequence, Result

Antonyms: Cause, Origin

19) Eschew

Meaning: Deliberately avoid using; abstain from.

Example: “he appealed to the crowd to eschew violence”

Synonyms: Forgo, Abandon, Abdicate

20) Subversion

Meaning: The undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution.

Example: “the ruthless subversion of democracy”