Juan Guaido has sworn himself in as a temporary President of Venezuela, after years of social and economic turmoil under incumbent Nicolas Maduro. This grants him temporary powers, as he claims he will stand in until democratic elections can be held. In the meantime, international leaders have clamoured to support either Maduro or Guaido. The US and UK governments have both recognised Guaido as legitimate, while Turkey and Russia support Maduro.
Could Russia and the US trigger a Cold War over Venezuela?
Russia and the US are on the opposing sides of an escalating political situation in a South American nation.
This has happened before, during the Cold War which lasted roughly from 1953 to 1989.
The period was defined by escalating ‘cold’ conflict between the US and Russia, backed by certain allies on each side.
Mostly clashes were by rhetoric between World leaders, or proxy conflict – where the US would back one side in a war, and Russia would back another.
The question of whether the Venezuela crisis would result in another Cold War is based on the assumption another one is not already ongoing.
According to some leading political scientists, Cold War tensions have been reestablished for years now.
This would make the current Venezuelan situation, not a cause, but rather a symptom of the new Cold War.
Others disagree, however, saying the current hostility is not the result of power imbalances, but disagreements in singular decisions made by international political leaders.
Talking to the BBC, Michael Kofman, a senior research scientist at the CNA Corporation – responsible for research and analysis on an international scale – revealed his thoughts on current tensions.
He said: ”The Cold War was a competition resulting from a bipolar system, where two superpowers, both with economic and military advantages, were competing to shape international politics.
“Their universalist ideologies made this competition inevitable, as did the distribution of power at the time.”
He said, “a series of definable disagreements in international politics” is causing hostility, rather than overarching competition against certain countries.
So, while the US and Russia have taken opposite stances on the issue of Venezuela’s leadership, these are decisions arrived at without making deliberate attempts to destabilise another nation.
The current state of World affairs has cast the relationship between Russia and the US into question constantly, and without clearly defined stances against one, another it is difficult to claim another Cold War has begun.
Whether this will escalate later down the line however is yet to be seen.