Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
Chapter 11: The Second Cold War
Only after a short period of peace between the United States and Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991; the two countries entered a new era of military tension and political conflict that lasted until the collapse of Russia in 2022.
The official start date of the Second Cold War is often debated, but most historians agree that it began in earnest in 2013 with the Russian Oil and Natural Gas embargo of NATO following Ukraine's application to be admitted into the western alliance. Russia and Belarus shortly formed the Union State after this event and moved most of the authority of the Commonwealth of Independent States to Moscow.
Much like the first Cold War, the second was ultimately about Russia's relationship with the rest of Europe, particularly with respect to its lack of natural borders in the East European Plain that had been exploited by every western invader since Napoleon. Unlike the previous Cold War, this conflict also took into account Russia's population crunch and European dependency on Russian oil and natural gas.
Resources proved to be the Union State's greatest advantage during the conflict, and under the leadership of Vladimir Putin the country was able to build up enough capitol from the exportation of natural resources to develop the Union Military to be on par with that of the United States by the late 2010s. The Russian dominance over European Energy also proved to be affective at intimidating most of Western Europe and therefore NATO from engaging with the conflict, resulting in the start of the organizations decline. Only the Eastern European NATO countries remained involved in the conflict, under heavy support from the United States via technology transfer and military aid. Russia also used their energy dominance to keep the Ukraine in their sphere of influence, despite much of the country's opposition to Russian military intervention.
Poland became the greatest ally of the United States during this period and grew to become one of the most powerful economies in Europe by its end. Second only to Poland were the Baltic States, which faced the largest concentration of Union Military forces on their border of any country.
While Europe played the largest and most visible part of the Second Cold War, the Caucasus and the Middle East remained the most active area of proxy combat between the two sides. American sponsored Chechnyan and Georgian insurgents and Russian sponsored regimes in Pakistan and Syria, led to a number of small conflicts in the region. Perhaps
This conflict also forced the US to re-evaluate its relationship with the Middle East; an area that had seen decades of military intervention by the United States. The most radical shift in US Policy in this region was with Iran, whose alliance enabled the US to withdraw all combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq (save for Balad Air Base), by creating a new balance of power.
The conflict ultimately ended once the US began to focus on de-emphasizing hydrocarbons to weaken Russia’s influence in Europe, and ultimately remove the country's economic linchpin. With an exceedingly useless hydrocarbon industry, and burdened by military expenditures Russia began to fall behind the US technologically and soon faced economic collapse in the early 2020s.
With a stagnant economy, growing demographic concerns, and government bankruptcy brought on by years of conflict against Chechnya, the Union State formally collapsed on November 21st, 2022, resulting in the formal end of the Second Cold War and Russia itself.
**This scenario was conceived by STRATFOR founder, and geopolitical/economic analyst George Friedman. I did my best to illustrate his very interesting scenario which you can read about in great detail in his books: "The Next 100 Years," and the "Next Decade"