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Is the current antagonism between the U.S. and Russia really "new"?In fact, the adversarial relationship between Russia and the West began over a century before the Cold War. Back in the 1820s, Russia emerged not only as the principal victor in the Napoleonic wars, but also as the most conservative – or, more accurately, reactionary – force in Europe. When Russia suppressed two "color" revolutions – the Polish revolt of 1830-1831 and the Hungarian revolution of 1848-1849 – it became even deeper.To strengthen Russia's position, Nicholas I looked to the Orthodox populations in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire, with his Naval Minister Alexander Menshikov demanding in 1853 that Russia be named an official protector of the Ottoman Empire's 12 million Orthodox citizens. To my mind, that loss marks the end of a first, roughly 30-year cold war between Russia and Europe.For one thing, as was the case in the 1820s and late 1940s, Russia is aggressively rejecting Western values and opposing the U.S. Though no one is threatening to attack Russia, anti-Western hysteria is being used once again to divert attention from domestic economic challenges and consolidate support for the country's leader.
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