As I said last week, the most leverage we have on Moscow is financial. This morning two reports out of Russia say the pain on the moneyed class in Moscow is increasing. $16 billion in currency reserves left Russia in one week. But as the Times reported, the reasons for Russian restraint are not just financial.
Many in Washington hope Russia will restrain itself out of its own self-interest; Moscow, for instance, does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, nor does it want the Taliban to regain power in Afghanistan. Dmitri Rogozin, a hard-liner who serves as Russia’s ambassador to NATO, told the newspaper Izvestia this week that Moscow still wanted to support the alliance in Afghanistan. “NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan would not be good for us,” he said.
Moscow may also be checked by the desire of its economic elite to remain on the path to integration with the rest of the world. The main Russian stock index fell sharply in recent days, costing investors $10 billion — many with close ties to the circle of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.
If cooler heads than both John McCain and Vladimir Putin prevail, there is no reason for restarting the cold war.