By Anisha Padma:
The relationship between Viktor Petrov and Frank Underwood in House of Cards is a clear metaphor for the US-Russia relationship: aggressive and manipulative. After the Cold War, it is only now that the tensions between these two nations have been witnessed to be at an all time high. Last year, this was when Ukraine was left in the midst of a civil war.
Ukraine has become a stomping ground for the two nations. No one is quite sure of what Putin’s intentions regarding Ukraine are, but many pundits are positive that they have to do with changing Russia’s relations with the West. In an interview with the Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, Putin describes the conflict in Ukraine as “not caused by the Russian Federation. It has emerged in response to the attempts of the USA and its western allies who considered themselves as ‘winners’ of the cold war to impose their will everywhere”. Some may attribute these statements to Putin, who is still being a sore loser over the Cold War, but upon closer inspection, we see that the United States is heavily invested in putting its nose in Ukraine’s affairs.
The United States has allocated $19 million to its budget for helping in building the Ukrainian national guard. It also has plans to send individuals to train the Ukrainian battalions. Democrats and Republicans alike are pushing Obama to support Ukraine — one of the few things that has a bi-partisan support these days. Speaker John Boehner urged the US government to send more lethal weapons to Ukraine. And throughout all of this, Assistant Secretary of Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, describes the situation in Ukraine as “a manufactured conflict – controlled by the Kremlin; fueled by Russian tanks and heavy weapons; financed at the Russian taxpayers’ expense…” It may be so, but Russia is not the only one spending money and labour here.
With both sides pointing fingers at each other, who is to blame for 6,000 deaths?
Western media loves to find an enemy, and these days it is Vladimir Putin. He has been portrayed as anything from an awkward flirt who tries to charm the Chinese first lady to a manipulative, power-hungry descendant of Mikhail Gorbachev. Most recently, a 2008 study commissioned by a Pentagon think tank leaked to the press the possibility of Putin dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome.
However, in the acclaimed Netflix series, House of Cards, Petrov demonstrates a much more complex and nuanced persona. Viktor Petrov, who bears the same initials as Russia’s President, is a clear reference to Vladimir Putin. Though, on the show, he physically towers over individuals — unlike Putin’s stature in reality — Petrov exhibits realpolitik decision-making, something we can probably, comfortably attribute to Putin.
But, if we remove ourselves from the gaze of the Western media and perhaps, pay heed to some advice from House of Cards, then we can see the tension between United States and Russia for what it is. If we can balance the scales, we will discern that there are no infallible leaders in politics — every leader is as aggressive and manipulative as the next. And so, instead of trying to peer into Putin’s mind, we should probably start trying to assess Obama’s mind.
Leaving aside the mental capacities of the world leaders, in order to move forward on Ukraine, it is absolutely vital to neutralize that region rather than letting it fall prey to either Russia or the US. Otherwise, we risk endangering the lives of numerous people, and also ensure the continuous waste of labour and money for an unnecessary conflict, which is only demonstrating bravado.