Potentially 'bloody and brutal': Cold War historian explains 'frightening era' ahead as Russia continues Ukraine invasion
A Cold War historian is projecting that the modern Cold War will likely be far worse than the previous one.
In a guest op-ed published by The New York Times, Mary Elise Sarotte, —a historical studies professor at Johns Hopkins University who authored the book “Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate”— explained why this war could be potentially worse.
While she commended the courage and bravery of Ukrainians fighting for their country's freedom and independence, she expressed deep concern about the dangerous and emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin as his recklessness could lead to long term disparities.
"I am now deeply afraid that Mr. Putin’s recklessness may cause the years between the Cold War and the Covid-19 pandemic to seem a halcyon period to future historians, compared with what came after," Sarotte wrote. "I fear we may find ourselves missing the old Cold War."
Sarotte also highlighted the implicit shift in the code of conduct now in comparison to confrontations in the past. In short, Sarotte suggested that Russia has tossed conduct out of the window. "Even though they were adversaries, the Soviet and American pilots abided by a tacit code of conduct, rooted in patterns of predictable behavior," Sarotte wrote. "At the end of the day, everyone got home safely."
She added, "I’ve been thinking a lot about this code as I watch the war unfolding in Ukraine. I am awe-struck by the bravery of Ukrainians. But as a Cold War historian, I fear that Russia’s invasion, regardless of its outcome, portends a new era of immense hostility with Moscow — and that this new cold war will be far worse than the first."
Expressing concern about Ukraine, Sarotte noted the most apparent threats to the small country.
"Russia’s vastly larger military — along with its stifled domestic political opposition, free press and free speech — means that there will be few checks on Mr. Putin’s carnage beyond what the outgunned Ukrainians can bring to bear," she wrote, adding, "And if his conduct in Chechnya — a territory Russia mauled militarily in the 1990s — is any example, a potential occupation of Ukraine will be bloody and brutal, with additional spillover risks."