Assassinations and a New Space Race; Is the Cold War Back On?

History appears to be repeating itself.

If you grew up during the Cold War, you know what it was like imagining going to war with Russia: it would mean the end of life as we know it. Fortunately, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the Cold War hostilities ceased. However, several decades later, the Russian bear is poking around, stirring up conflicts once again. Is the Cold War making a comeback?

Several weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the assassination of a former spy residing in Great Britain. The assassin used a military grade chemical nerve agent, and killed both the former spy and his daughter. Former Pentagon official Michael Rubin believes that the attack, which took place on a NATO ally’s soil, is reason to cease diplomatic relations with Russia.

Great Britain should sever diplomatic relations with Russia, and every NATO member should in solidarity withdraw its ambassador from Moscow and demand the Russian ambassador leave their country. The United States might also close Russian consulates and even the embassy: If dialogue is necessary, there is always the Russian ambassador to the United Nations.

This response is not unprecedented. The French severed diplomatic ties with the Iranians when the regime assassinated Iranian dissidents in Paris. When Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the murder of author Salman Rushdie, the United Kingdom suspended diplomatic relations.

In Rubin’s assessment, the Russians deserve the same treatment as the Iranians because its behavior is similar. He also advocates for denying travel visas to anyone connected to the Russian government, seizing assets of Russian oligarchs, and ceasing all oil technology exports to Russia.

To make things even more dicey, Russia is planning on expelling UK diplomats in retaliation for UK Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to expel 23 Russians suspected of being spies. Certainly sounds rather Cold War-esque, doesn’t it?

But not only are there diplomatic problems, it also appears that there may be a new space race brewing as well. But it won’t be between the United States and Russia per se, but rather between Russia and a Canadian-American entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Musk recently announced that he has plans for his space exploration company SpaceX to get a probe to Mars by 2019 as the first step toward establishing a self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet.

Just a few days after Musk’s announcement, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will also be aiming for a Mars expedition project launching in 2019. The plan also starts off with an unmanned craft, with the hope of carrying out manned missions following that.

One thing is for sure: it does not appear that Russia will be backing down from its aggressive behavior any time soon. NATO countries will have to respond to this aggression somehow, but whatever their response is it may further escalate already high tensions.

Is the Cold War making a comeback? Can the West make peace with the Russian Bear once again? Share your thoughts with us!

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