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George Freundt, US
"The US, China and Russia are definitely military superpowers"
 real 28k

Barnaby Hockings, US
"Russia is just going through some growing pains"
 real 28k

Dr Pekka Roponen, Finland
"You never know what to expect from Russsia"
 real 28k

Chris Mason, Australia
"If Russia wasn't a superpower we wouldn't be talking about it"
 real 28k

Jeff Fallis, US
"Russia is a superpower, if only from a political and military standpoint"
 real 28k

Gabriela Preda, Romania
"Russia is still a superpower and Kursk tragedy will not diminish that"
 real 28k

Saturday, 2 September, 2000, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Is Russia still a superpower?

The once proud Russian military has taken a serious knock with the Kursk submarine tragedy. The failed rescue attempt has been seen as a sign that Russia cannot afford to maintain its imposing military strength.

And yet, the country retains a massive nuclear arsenal, has a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and remains key in the resolution of international disputes.

Is Russia still a superpower or has it been relegated to the second division in the international world order? And if so, what are the implications for the rest of the world?

The BBC's Bridget Kendall took your calls in a live phone-in debate on the subject - online and on BBC World Service Radio. You can still add to the debate by emailing us your comments.

Click below to watch Talking Point On Air.

  • Read what you said before we went ON AIR


    Your comments since the programme

    Russia is too large to be effectively governed

    Rojaws, UK
    The West won the cold war without a single nuclear weapon being used. Knowledge is power, and as we have seen from the many recent disasters in Russia and other former Soviet bloc countries, they clearly do not have the power. Russia is too large to be effectively governed.
    In the eastern areas state governors hold the power. It is a feudal system, the question remains over their nuclear capability, but I have no doubt that the people who knew how to fire them are now either dead or haven't been paid for six months. We should all be worried about the Muslim problem and keep an eye on China, the only place Communism has worked.
    Rojaws, UK

    To underestimate the will, courage, and ability of the Russian people to make great personal and collective sacrifices for the state should never be underestimated. The international bankers are strong, but the Russian people can transcend. We did it, Germany did it, and they will do it. So let's be nice to them when they are down now. They are not out. We really should not want them to be out. Buffers are good. Monopoly power is bad, for otherwise, why do we hassle Microsoft?
    L. Loukopoulos, USA

    The only way Russia will be stopped from being considered a superpower is if the Americans push ahead with their anti missile defence system

    Kevin, Ireland
    The only reason Russia is still considered a superpower is because it still has large stockpiles of nuclear weapons which western countries fear. The only way Russia will be stopped from being considered a superpower is if the Americans push ahead with their anti missile defence system. If this becomes operable in the near future ICBMS will become void and Russia will lose its status as a superpower.
    Kevin, Ireland

    I think the Russian military believes it can behave as a superpower, but recent events show that is not the case. The entire 'Kursk' episode was wreathed in half-truths, outright lies, disinformation and obfuscation. They haven't changed a bit: witness the treatment of the distraught mother who criticised the Deputy PM.
    John, Canada

    The ideological changes adopted after the end of the cold war, have been implemented in such a speed and manner which lead to serious cracks in the political, social etc. fabric of the Russian society.
    Russia is now a very volatile country controlling a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. At the end of the cold war, the west was more concerned about a speedy destruction of the Soviet Union and declaring and declaring a victory of a decades-long war which drained the world resources. I don't think anybody can guess what future Russia will have. The feeling of humiliation can lead to anything.
    Kader, United Kingdom

    The Russian leadership has let its people down badly - pretty much since 1917

    Simon, Norway
    I think Reinhard Jaegers response below is spot on. In socio-economic terms, the Russian leadership has let its people down badly - pretty much since 1917. Their contribution to world affairs has been, and still is, entirely negative - the recent example being Kosovo.
    We all want to see a forward-thinking and economically stable Russia; one that has finally shaken itself free of the Soviet era. Although it's early days yet, the indications are, depressingly, that this is just not going to happen. A start would be to recognise that Russia is no longer a superpower, and, by any yardstick other than military might, never has been.
    Simon, Norway

    Superpower? In terms of military and especially nuclear capacity, certainly. But the real issue is how well managed is it and can we expect more of the same? With superpower status comes the responsibility to control that materiel that makes it a superpower. This is not only for the health and security of the country, but for the safety of the rest of us.
    Louis, Global Nomad

    I would say that superpowers no longer exist as such

    Alex, UK
    All these comments are so smug about Russia. I would say that superpowers no longer exist as such. Capitalism is under a slow rate of decline, nowhere has growth equalled that of the boom experienced in the sixties'. Even Third World countries like India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons.
    European countries like Germany, France and Britain no longer have the economic clout they could once command as separate nations. Now they realise they have to merge in a union in order to compete with the rest of the world. Japan, the world's second largest economy is still under recession.
    So the argument whether Russia is still a superpower doesn't really address the wider and more important issue of the future of world capitalism.
    Alex, UK

    Mother Russia has, is and always will be a military superpower to be feared and respected. How can anyone doubt that? Napoleon and Hitler did and look where their doubts got them. Russia was in similar state during Napoleonic Wars, impoverished and weak...and yet...mhh. I guess we simply don't follow what the history tries to teach us. Hungry Russian soldier is more dangerous than full. Desperation is a mother of drastic actions as there is no other alternative. Yes, Russia continues to be a superpower.
    Artur, USA\Poland

    With the downsizing of arms throughout the world, is anyone now classed as a superpower?
    Stuart Wyatt, France

    The words "Super" and "Power" sound quite odd

    Mario, Finland

    Russian officials are still negotiating with Stolt Offshore, to use the Norwegian divers for the recovery of the bodies. That alone shows how impotent Russia is. This whole situation should be considered humiliating, the words "Super" and "Power" sound quite odd.
    Mario, Finland

    To anyone who has visited Russia in the last few years, like me the idea that it is a superpower is laughable. The decay is all encompassing, from their buildings to their transport systems. What worries me is that the same must be true of their nuclear weapons and power stations.
    Patrick Hall, UK

    So many comments that Russia is still a superpower because of its military, even though it is an economic basket case. Well, their current military status must be re-evaluated as well, in light of Afghanistan, the fall of the Iron-Curtain, lack of military response to Persian Gulf War, the dissintigration of the former Yugoslavia, and impotence in Chechnya on two occasions. Forgive me for sounding like an arrogant American, but Russia's only relevance concerns the shape and character of its disintegration.
    J. Randolph Collett, USA

    Russia's unpredictable nature is the main reason behind its still being considered a super power. Its military power is the main reason. Though the economy is in shambles and the country in ruin, nuclear might is never going to go. Its a reminder of how scary the situation was during the cold war. Then Russia was wealthy, communist and had great military might. Beware and never dismiss Russia.
    Srinivas Cuddapah, India

    Russia is a nuclear power but superpower it is not

    Harry Chia, Singapore

    Russia is a nuclear power but superpower it is not. Its economy is in such a shamble that without western aid the country will remain in shambles. But, will the western countries help Russia be a superpower again ?
    Harry Chia, Singapore

    Russia's long history inidicates that it has been up and down. I believe from their weaknesses they learnt how to make themselves stonger. If you look at the 1917 revolution, Russia almost lost everything, but then after 30 years they earn their superpower status. For now they are in learning and observation period.
    G. Begian, Canada

    Russia's generals will let you know soon how much of a superpower they are and who they are in league with. The payback factor for the Kursk loss could be very extreme for the US or Britain, I believe
    Charles Buchanan, USA

    I read with great interest all the comments, is Russia still a superpower. My thoughts were, this sounds like little kids in school, saying my dad can beat your dad. How sad that people don't realise that wars do not solve anything, lets all just take care of our people and forget about " my dads stronger than yours."
    Gloria, USA

    Russia has always been a third-world country with a first-world military. However, in light of recent and past events, it seems that Russia doesn't have the economic might to back up her rotting military teeth. This is evidenced by events such as the sinking of the Kursk and the war in Chechnya. Even with a formidable nuclear arsenal left (questionably controlled by the Duma), it remains to be seen whether Russia will once again have the influence it did during the Cold War. The rest lies in the hands of Mr Putin.
    Bryan McCavour, Canada

    Russia is no longer a superpower. Recent events show Russia's new status following a lack of funding for it military spending, weaponry and salaries.
    Sivanandan, Johor Malaysia

    The old Soviet is gone and the country needs to start over again

    Joseph Mulherin, USA

    No, Russia is NOT a superpower anymore. She is closer to what Cuba is in the western hemisphere: broke and foundering. They still have the equipment carried over from the Soviets but do not have the knowledge to use it properly and it should be dismantled to dust. The space program was good, even though it had many disasters during its time, and could be good and topnotch again if only the government stops being communistic. It is now time for them to setup a democractic government like the US or even the type of government like England has. The old Soviet is gone and the country needs to start over again.
    Joseph Mulherin, USA

    With so much potential to be the nuclear threat it once was, Russia is a superpower or at least a potential superpower. With the right leadership and help from the right sources, Russia can overcome this major depression in its history to become a great nation. When that happens, Russia will have much to contribute in our quest for world peace.
    Jason Chapman, USA

    Russia a superpower? I do not believe Russia was anything but an intimidator and a bluffer.
    Kenneth Langley, Canada

    I still regard Russia as a great nation. The unfortunate disaster should not be used as a factor in determining whether or not she is still a world power. I believe that Russia can still emerge a superpower if the break-away states can reunite with Russia being the centre of power.
    Oral G. Russ, Minnesota, USA

    Russia is now more dangerous as a former superpower

    Saeed, USA

    Russia is now more dangerous as a former superpower than it was in its "hay day". It has a floundering economy and no geopolitical clout anymore, yet it has a substantial nuclear arsenal. The economic instability can easily lead to political chaos. It is not far from some old-line communists appealing to the masses by recalling how much better things were under the former regime.
    Saeed, USA

    In a word, NO. Britain and France have fairly large nuclear arsenals, and they're not superpowers either. China has the potential to be a superpower, but has much to do to build its economic base. In short, there is only one nation with the military and economic resources to dictate global policy - the United States. What a scarey time to be an American.
    Tom, USA

    If a nation is a superpower based solely on its military arsenal, then Russia is a superpower. If a nation is a superpower based on its economic, military, political status, than Russia is by no means a superpower. Russia is in a dangerous mess right now and the recent incident with the Kursk only highlights that.
    Zach, USA

    A simple answer: no.
    Stuart, UK

    The sheer influence that Russia exerts over the decision makers of the world is enough to call her a superpower. When Russia does anything it makes news around the world. Yes she has a few problems at the moment, but the leaders of the other leading nations will not ignore her. They, by their actions, demonstrate a high regard for Russia's status in the international community.
    Ollie, Great Britain

    In my opinion, the true definition of 'Superpower' is a country that can back up its military might with a sense of responsibility towards its citizens and those around them. In this respect, Russia - and the USSR before it - has never really been a superpower.
    Reinhard Jaeger, UK

    Overall Russia is no longer a super power

    Srinivasa, India

    I don't think Russia still holds the Super power status. After the fall of Soviet Union, its economy is at its lowest level. So many Russians are living in poverty. It may be a member of G8, but certainly it does not deserve it. So, overall Russia is no longer a super power.
    Srinivasa, India

    Yes, Russia is still the Superpower. Dare anybody attack Russia? It is not the weapon that make Russia the superpower but it the people. It has long history of struggle and wars. Even with the Russian people broken economically; they still have the best brains. The world needs Russia and its people.
    Dinesh Thamara, India

    Russia is still a super power and will remain to be so. I have always loved Russia and its technology. America with all its economic backing has achieved much less than Russia in missile and space technology.
    Jagannathan.R, India

    Officials of so called think tanks in western Europe and the United States utilising their latest fire power put together, occasionally look for the least reason to bang small nations on the head, in affirming the size of their muscle. Now, if they really want to know whether Russia is still a super power or not, I suggest they drop a bomb on Russia, and see what the reaction is going to be, if anyone lives to tell the story, then Russia is no longer a super power. You're looking at a wet leopard, mistaking it for a cat. Each society has its low moments.
    Blanshard Meheux, USA

    Russia is indeed still a world power, however it is no longer the power that it once was. Let every one hope that Russia will get past this difficult phase and stabilise in coming years.
    Ryan, USA

    Russia must be considered to be a superpower because of her size and military strength

    Les, Britain
    Russia must be considered to be a superpower because of her size and military strength, not to mention her influence over former Eastern Block countries. New countries emerged following the break up of the Soviet Union, and whether we like it or not, these countries (which include Russia) still pose a very serious military threat to the West.
    Les, Britain

    Russia may not be a super-power anymore, but with a corrupt government and disobedient army, they are still a real nuclear threat.
    Alex White, UK

    Power is economy. We have seen the United States under Ronald Reagan spent itself monetarily in an arms race that decreased its standing. Russia is now paying the same mortgage with some delay. There will be no "super-power" Russia before military spending is not tightly controlled and an acceptable economic (i.e. democratic, legal) climate established.
    Jrn Guy S, Germany

    Russia needs to re-invent itself to the world in terms of business opportunities

    Mark, UK
    Russia needs to re-invent itself to the world in terms of business opportunities and show the west that Russia is a great place to set up offices and is the place to be. Other Eastern block countries seemed to have done this. Russia is still a mighty force on the World scene but it needs to be more free.
    Mark, UK

    Russia is bankrupt, that is why the Soviet Union collapsed. At the moment Russia is not a superpower, but the Russian people have throughout history demonstrated that they are among the strongest in the world.
    Once Russia is able to pick itself up economically, which will be a long and painful process, it will doubtless again be a superpower.
    Angus Gulliver, UK

    Russia is in the unusual position of having superpower technology without the means to maintain it. During this transition phase it remains to be seen whether organised crime can be beaten and the economy restarted. The longer this process takes, the more difficult it will be for Russia to recover any part of its superpower status. However, Russians are famous for performing miracles with little resources so it is premature to write them off just yet. It is also probably in the West's interests that the Russian Mafia be contained, so helping the Russian authorities to tackle corruption and organised crime could be good news for both Russia and the West.
    Paul R, UK

    I think Russia should certainly be considered a "great power" in international relations. But I wouldn't go so far as to don the title "superpower" upon an economically-weak state that has been engaged in civil war for close to a decade; one that is ruled by oligarchs and overrun with Mafia; one that cannot even provide hot water on demand to its citizens.
    Jonathan, Canada

    I think the submarine that went down was nothing but an accident which can happen for any other country

    Azeem Diwan, USA
    I think the submarine that went down was nothing but an accident which can happen for any other country, be it Russia or the US. This doesn't imply that Russia is loosing its grip on power. No doubt it has been hit with financial crisis but that is expected with any country. It still has one of the biggest nuclear arsenals around. A few years will tell if Russia is going doing militarily.
    Azeem Diwan, USA

    Russia seemed like a much stronger country and superpower under communism, since the collapse of communism, Russia has been on an economic and military slope, in my view. So maybe the Hammer and Sickle wasn't so bad...
    Thomas, Canada

    Russia slips further away from superpower status more every month as fresh calamities befall her, but it would be unwise to write off any country with such history and potential.
    Rob Webber, UK

    Yes, Russia is still superpower. This not because of economically poor but because of their military hardware the Russians have more missiles than combined USA and UK together if it is considered economically then Japan will be the second superpower in the world. So we have to understand the military capability of this vast country of course there is a problem of economical instability, but the country has large amount of resources believe me with in the next few years it will be a great country both militarily and economically.
    Araya Belay, Canada

    "An injured lion never wakes up."
    JJ, USA

    The glory of a nation depends on the character of its people. I think Russians have unmistakable character and strength. It is just a matter of time that they would shed the dust on the clothes return to business as usual.
    Sharanu Sajjan, Canada

    Russia will regain its strength, however drastically declined for the time being.

    Olessia, Russia
    Hardly ever in its history has Russia experienced placid times devoid of dissatisfaction or conflicts, probably only in the epic golden years of its initial emergence. When (okay, a bit later) Novgorod Veche was apparently one of the first democratic establishments in the world (people of different social standing gathered on the main square of the city to discuss and solve urgent problems and their will was unquestioned). However Russian people have always been able to make it through and not without glory. Recessions follow booms and vice versa, calamities are followed by incredible advancement, that's the way it is, and Russia will regain its strength, however drastically declined for the time being.
    Olessia, Russia

    The news from Russia recently has parallels to the news which would have been reported at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. A possibly unfair comparison would be the story of Nero playing the fiddle.
    Lawrence Jones, Germany

    While the Soviet Union is gone, the Russian Federation is still a superpower in respect of its sheer size and influence

    Michael, Ireland
    While the Soviet Union is gone, the Russian Federation is still a superpower in respect of its sheer size and influence. However, it must realise that modern nations are interdependent (i.e. the US gets help from the UK and vice versa). I think it is still used to Cold war isolation and having to stand on it's own for so long that it is a jack (a very underfunded one) of all trades and master on none. It needs to take a step back in order to make a step forward. They should concentrate on quality rather than quantity.
    Michael, Ireland

    Russia was once a super power and it should be once again a super power to challenge the USA and the West. Russia and China together can outbeat the USA and England and they will do it a day. A small scratch on a lion's claw can not make a lion, a jackal. Russia is Russia and Vladimir Putin will show the whole world this way.
    Ishwar Raj Pandeya, India

    Mir was put in space when the West could not dream of such a venture at that time. Even the key modules of International space station were designed by Russia as the West was not in position to do it on its own. Despite all efforts by the West to drain off Russia politically, technically and monetarily Russia will emerge as Superpower again. Historically Russia always came up more powerful then ever.
    Roger, USA

    Russia is a superpower in the sense that she has the capability to deliver a nuclear threat. Outdated or not, she could wipe out a British city without an awful lot of trouble. On the other hand, even a small gang of fanatics in Chechnya have been able to last quite a while, so in conventional terms, they have lost their superpower status. They are still a frightening respect, not least for their own soldiers, as the Kursk has demonstrated.
    FM, UK

    The concept of superpower is dangerous. A superpower is merely another tyrant imagining itself to be the best influence on earth. There are better measures of validity. The US and Russia are merely developed nations among a community of nations on Earth.
    Jim Crawford, USA

    Russia is in transition and faces enormous domestic problems such as civil conflict in the Chechnya, the economy, the environment, and the prevailing problems of the existing military and in light of the Kursk, the Navy. But these challenges do not weaken Russia. They strengthen her outlook and she will emerge a different power which is able to compete well eventually.
    Rich M. Rimmer, Neptune, NJ

    Your comments during the programme

    Any country that has a nuclear capability has to be taken seriously, and is a superpower

    Chris Mason, Australia
    Any country that has a nuclear capability has to be taken seriously, and, is a superpower.
    Chris Mason, Australia

    Russia has no real democratic structures, no history of respect for people. Its economic strength does not give it super power status. What is left than other than nuclear weapons to give the superpower status? It will take a change of generation until there will be any willingness to become a real democratic country, deserving the superpower status. A former KGB colonel is the wrong man to accomplish this.
    Bruno Kaspar

    Having nuclear weapons alone does not make a country a superpower, but Russia's long history of civilization, culture, and technology cannot be ignored

    Mohammad Iskander Hluchan, USA
    I believe Russia is still a superpower. Having nuclear weapons alone does not make a country a superpower, but Russia's long history of civilization, culture, and technology cannot be ignored.
    Mohammad Iskander Hluchan, USA

    Is it hopelessly utopian of me to wish that, now the cold war is over, ALL the major powers could drastically reduce their defense spending and concentrate instead on health, education, the environment, poverty, third world debt, and a host of other worthy causes?
    Stephanie Lyon, Spain

    A super power should be able to put resolve its own problems as well as manage its environment

    Charles Msesi
    Russia is no longer a superpower as a small nation Norway helped her to unlock the hatch of its secret Oscar class Submarine. A super power should be able to put resolve its own problems as well as manage its environment
    Charles Msesi

    In my opinion questions such as whether Russia can ever be a superpower again or whether the Russian establishment continues to view to the past instead of the future are Thoroughly irrelevant. Instead we should be asking ourselves whether we in the West are prepared to accept Russia as an equal and serious political and economic partner.
    Neil van Siclen, Germany

    Russia just keeps her status as a superpower by threatening to sell her nuclear arsenal blackmailing the west to pump in money in a "hole" to help so-called "reforms". How long will we have to pay for it? The so-called diplomatic Russian superpower in G7, Bosnia and Kosovo is not for real. The hope is that the Russian people will focus more on economic wealth than on militarism.
    Johannes Sondermann, Germany

    The transformation to a free market economy in Russia has been very difficult. It has led to a large underclass in Russian society, rampant crime and corruption and a powerful black market. A great responsibility rests on Mr Putin. A clean and efficient Government can turn this once great country around. To me Russia will always stand for Challiapin, Tchaikovsky and Cfiffra. The contributions made by its great artists can never be forgotten.
    Prof FJ Sagar, India

    Russia's status as a superpower has been in decline for many years. The Soviet Union fell because it had become bankrupted by it's military/industry and all of its occupied territories had been bled dry. The West wrote off billions of dollars of debt and poured more millions in as aid, which subsequently disappeared without trace. Chernobyl had to be paid for by the West. Now they want more aid to raise the Kursk. Of course we must pay because they can't, but if it wasn't for the nuclear threat the West would have turned it's back on Russia years ago. If the ability to extort money with threats makes a superpower, then Russia can still claim to be one.
    Ianis Kalejs

    Russia has been in a mess for the last 150 years, but when they still have such huge military power and the opportunity to create huge environmental disasters, people are still very afraid of them.
    Dr Pekka Roponen, Finland

    Drugging angry mothers on TV is not the way a superpower conducts itself in public

    Patrick Snelling, Melbourne
    A superpower is one that respects and nurtures a civil society. Everyone can see the results of Russian military incompetence and their apparent disregard for human life and our shared environment. Drugging angry mothers on TV is not the way a superpower conducts itself in public. Russia must accept democracy or get out of the 21st century world order.
    Patrick Snelling, Melbourne

    Your comments before the programme

    The question is simply absurd. Despite the calamity which befell the nation some day ago, Russia is still a superpower. It will be wrong to say the US is not a super power because 'she' has not been able to put out the fire raising through the country. In the same manner, what happened in Russia is not enough to make us underrate that powerful country.
    Austin O. Osemwegie

    Russia's economic strength has declined dramatically. All that was left of Russia's pride was its military might. The submarine accident proved that there is nothing left of its past glory.
    Hani Dimitry, Cairo, Egypt

    Nuclear weapons alone do not make a superpower

    Steve, USA
    Russia cannot be considered a superpower as long as she does not have the economic power to support her influence in world politics. Only the US has the needed combination of economic and military power to be a superpower if she so chooses. For Russia, it is more important to get her own internal affairs in order before worrying about her place in the world in the 21st Century. Russia's people deserve respect, but nuclear weapons alone do not make a superpower.
    Steve, USA

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, that surely was a superpower, Russia is in the transitional period from communism to the market economy and so-called democracy. The last decade has seen a fall in living standards, catastrophic situation in the national economy, science, in the army and in the navy. Living in fear of being kidnapped or blown up in your own bed (I live in North Caucasia) with regular blackouts, unpaid wages, rising prices for gas. electricity, transport, etc, is awful.

    But even more discouraging for me is to watch my country sliding from the state of a superpower to that of a second-rate country. For me it is clear that Russia with its vast territory and severe climatic conditions, multiethnic population lacking any national idea can survive in the modern world only when all political, economic and financial power is concentrated in the hands of the state. Otherwise we shall live with the national budget equal to that of Finland at the backyard of the world progress.
    Vladimir Krotov, Nalchik, Russia

    Russia is not to be underestimated. They might have become a "regional Power" rather than a true "Superpower" recently, but they would make a very attractive ally to a Europe that wants to go it's own way without an arrogant US who has always sorted out its own interests first and foremost.
    Peter, Sydney Australia

    Russia has been recently shown to although be strong, to be beurocratic, beligerant, and slow to do - anything. They would be a powerful country if they concentrated their resources and didn't try to spread what they have everywhere. Russia may have weapons - but could they skillfully use them?
    Patrick Toolan, UK

    Russia is no longer a superpower. Their military is weak and under funded. They've never been great at fighting wars and only defeated the Nazis because they could cope with the winter weather.
    Duncan, Surrey, UK

    It is the sign of our times that a country is solely judged by its military power. Russia is an impressive country with warm-hearted and highly cultured people. It has a rich history and its cultural contributions make the USA look backward. Russian writers such as Puskin and Tolstoy, its great composers, its ballet, its artists, its world class chess players are all second to none. I hope the Russians know that there are many people who have a deep respect and admiration for them. I was deeply saddened by the Kursk disaster and send my sympathies.
    A.Mosley, Al Ain, U.A.E.

    The Soviet Union was indeed a superpower from the mid-40s until early 90s. But the plain truth is that being a superpower made it bankrupt.

    Abe, NY, US (late of Azerbaijan)
    The Soviet Union was indeed a superpower from mid-40s until early 90s. But the plain truth is that being a superpower made it bankrupt. Once the gulag slavery ended in mid-50s, the USSR could not sustain economic competition which being a superpower requires, and eventually its economy collapsed. What Russia has now is a huge army left over from the USSR which it is no longer is able to finance. However, the ambitions and superpower thinking have survived all hardship that befell Russia in the past decade. Russia is no longer a superpower but Russians are not aware of it. Yet.
    Abe, NY, US (late of Azerbaijan)

    Yes, Russia is still a superpower. The Russians still possess a sizeable nuclear arsenal, and are still able to maintain some fine research institutions. The current problems result from the collapse of the Communist system under the twin strains of it's own internal contradictions and economic competition with the more efficient free market capitalism of the west. No one should think, however, that the current problems will last forever, or that Russia will not recover.
    Gerold Reimondo-Jandrok, Houston, Texas, USA

    A lion taking a nap is still a lion

    Napoleon, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    Russia is and was a superpower and will continue to be so in the future. As 'A lion taking a nap is still a lion'.
    Napoleon, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Since the end of the Cold War, there have been no superpowers, Russia couldn't be one because of its poor military and inability to project its influence effectively abroad, and The US chooses not to, it has demoted itself to the rank of great power.
    Vincent Cushnahan, UK

    Any country that retains the ability to destroy civilisation (as does Russia) must be regarded as a "superpower"
    Mike, London, England

    Russia has been and will continue to be a Superpower in all fields of arts, sports, sciences and world affairs.

    We citizens of the third world should be thankful that Russia has been a bulwark against the West

    S.C. Chen, Malaysia
    The fact that the country has been made bankrupt by its own systems as well as the efforts of its enemies cannot detract from the contributions that Russia has and will continue to give the world. We citizens of the third world should be thankful that Russia has been a bulwark against the onslaught of the greedy and slimy economic tsars of the West.
    S.C. Chen, Malaysia

    Russia was never a super power. It was the Soviet Union which was a super power and the Soviet Union was not all Russia.
    Sanjay P, U.S.A

    We will see if Russia is really a power when China starts flexing its muscle and starts taking parts of Eastern Russia!!
    Eddie, USA

    Russia was, is and will be important military and political factor in international relations, and yes, it is still superpower. I am not surprised with some arrogant comments from the US regarding this superpower matter, as it is known that they lack a wide knowledge of history.
    Mark, Toronto, Canada

    [The Russians] are a strong people who can take real adversity, unlike the US and England

    Paul Lawson, Houston, Texas, USA
    Russia is still a super power. They are going through a difficult transition period but they have the largest national land area with a wealth of natural resources. They are a strong people who can take real adversity, unlike the US and England. I have no doubt that Russia will re-emerge as great nation and superpower in the current century.
    Paul Lawson, Houston, Texas, USA

    Russia became a superpower by totally abusing the human and natural resources of its southern & eastern provinces. To become a superpower it seems, one must destroy totally the social and material fabric of a whole chunk of some other region on earth. Unless Russia finds more nations to gobble up and defile, its days as a superpower are over.
    Asif, USA

    No, Russia is no longer a 'superpower'! As a so-called 'superpower' in the past, communist Russians committed hundreds, and even thousands of crimes against humanity and against the people of many countries. My country - Vietnam - is among them. Russia is definitely not a 'superpower', and is certainly not worth that label as assumed by many people in the world.
    Nguyen Minh Ky, Hue City, Vietnam

    Being a superpower is as much a matter of resources as it is of the mind

    Robert J. Marshall, U.S.A.
    Russia may not be a superpower in the physical sense, but they're a superpower by sheer will and spirit. I say this, because, during World War II Russia suffered the greatest losses of any nation, and fought heroically against all the odds. Trust me, if the United States, China, or anyone else doubts that Russia is still a superpower, attack her sovereignty, and see what happens. Her people will rise to the occasion, no matter the task. I'm proud of America, and I love my country. But being a superpower is as much a matter of resources as it is of the mind and spirit, and Russia has plenty of both.
    Robert J. Marshall, U.S.A.

    No. It cannot afford or sustain either economically or demographically, a war.
    Zac, Leicester UK

    Remember, Slav means slave. The Slavic people have endured slavery by the Vikings, Turks and Mongols, and defeated the Nazi. Always "backwards" or at a disadvantage, but with big hearts, and slow to anger. But once they make their minds up their like a Vermont Yankee, and will steamroll through anything. It's not the missiles, economics or the leader: Its the character of the people that will maintain Russia as power.
    David, Pebble Beach USA

    If I am begging for food and money down the street what would you call me: A king or a beggar? Today Russian leaders are begging for IMF forgiveness, food, and money from other countries. Vladimir Putin the Russian president himself admitted that "today Russia is a weak country". How can we call them a superpower?
    Waiss, sacramento usa

    An un-checked, lone superpower is a very dangerous thing

    David, San Francisco, USA
    Russia is a great country with a great history. Her people have survived unimaginable hardship and continued to flourish. Russia is in a temporary low point in her history. I hope I am not wrong, because an un-checked, lone superpower is a very dangerous thing. Even if you happen to live within her borders.
    David, San Francisco, USA

    With what criteria do we define a superpower? Is it a nation's military strength, economics, or academic achievements that define it to be a world power ? Militarily, the answer is yes and no. Conventionally it is obvious that they do not pose a military threat. However, the fact that they posses large numbers of nuclear weapons does warrant superpower status. Economically, Russia is nowhere near a superpower. Yet the potential does exist. If superpower status is defined by a nation's academic and artistic contributions then yes Russia is a superpower. Overall, it is their nuclear capability that has kept them on UN Security Council and a key player in world politics. It will be their intellectual achievements and the spirit of their people to succeed economically that will,in time, justify their status.
    I Bernard, Edmonton,Canada

    We are seeing what is culturally a medieval state that has never known any real form of liberal capitalist democracy. In rather halting and uncertain steps, Russia is attempting to adapt to the modern age while at the same time fighting powerful internal obstacles to reform and stability. Superpower status requires internal cohesion, something Russia will lack for the foreseeable future.
    Kerry, USA

    Russia is certainly a power to be reckoned with. Currently, they are going through a bad phase. And it would be a mistake to write them off. As technology and economy is growing in countries spread across the globe the balance of power is shifting rapidly from countries once known as super powers (US and Russia) to the third world countries such as India and China. The significance of this change is that the term "Super Power" needs to re-termed as "Regional Power". I see this as upheaval of democracy from a National level to World level.
    Lalloo Bihari, USA/Nepal

    Russia is like a large ailing and hollow tree. Small wind will knock it down

    Abdul Malek Jalabi, Florida, USA/SYRIA
    Russia is like a large ailing and hollow tree. Small wind will knock it down. Russia's weapons are very capable of destroying Russia itself at the same minute they are used. Unfortunately, Russia's leaders destroyed the dignity of their own people, and turned against their innocent neighbour. As a Muslim, I do not feel any hatred towards Russians, but I pray to God to destroy their army in Chechnya.
    Abdul Malek Jalabi, Florida, USA/SYRIA

    Sovereign default. Hungry people. A disappearing Aral Sea. A 19th century economy in a 21st century world. By all measures, except for its nuclear arsenal, Russia is not a superpower. Disappointingly Russia has great untapped potential: extensive natural resources and an enterprising people. Yet current trends suggest a further deterioration in most people's quality of life and a weakening international role. Russia can only reach its potential by strictly adhering to the rule of law and building institutions that recognize the country's current political economy situation.
    Keith , Seattle, USA

    Russia is just a decadent power without economic or military influence outside their borders. Their huge, ageing, dangerous and expensive atomic arsenal has no use in regional conflicts like Kosovo or Chechnya.
    Jorge Stanbury, Lima, Peru

    If they can't even control their own borders, then Russia can hardly be considered a Superpower

    Jason, Minneapolis, USA

    Russian is not a superpower becasue it's unable to project force outside its nation, much less the region. The Kursk was part of a fleet prepared to tour the Mediterranean this Autumn and look how badly things have turned. One might argue that Russia is a superpower simply because of the size of its nuclear power, but since these are never going to be used, the Russian are impotent to affect change. For example, look at the difficulty Russia has had subduing the "bandits" in Chechnya. If they can't even control their own borders, then Russia can hardly be considered a Superpower.
    Jason, Minneapolis, USA

    Answer to all of us, whatever we like it or not, Russia was always and still is a super power: 300 years ago, 200 years,100 years and 10 years ago. Why? Think, how big was the Russian empire and for how many years? How many wars has Russia fought and won? How many world decisions have been influenced by the Russian empire, Soviet empire? Yes, they've lost cold war, and yes they are poor now, big deal. Llet's have this conversation in 20-30 years, than we will see who was right.
    Phil , UK

    I can't believe my eyes. It is a well-known fact that Russia is not a superpower among students of international politics such as myself. Regardless of their nationality or political tendencies, Russia ceased to be a superpower at least a decade ago It must be remembered that the definition of superpower must include great economic strength across the board, not just in heavy industry in the 1950s and 1960s. Russia now has a GDP per capita lower than Poland, purchasing power parity that is a little more than half of Brazil's, and has 40% of population below the poverty line. Look up the definition of superpower before you disagree.
    Jonathon Daley, British student in US

    Russia will make its mark in the years to come

    Prof Sasha Kusmartsev, Moscow, Russia

    As a senior Professor of Physics, I can say that Russia will make its mark in the years to come. We have, and always have had, a bright generation of young minds. The political system however, has not allowed these minds to flourish, and as a result of this, the country has been left behind in the international race for money and power.
    Prof Sasha Kusmartsev, Moscow, Russia

    I think Russia is only a "super barbarian" power. It proved this when in Chechnya.
    Ozgur Koc, Turkey

    Russia has never been a superpower. The Soviet Union was a superpower for a limited period, between the end of WWII and the missile crisis in Cuba. Since then, the world has been dominated by one superpower, faced with a decreasing number of adversaries and to a decreasing level of military counterweight. On the other hand, what happened to the Kursk, and the way the Russians have handled the events could have happened anywhere. Did we not see a Concorde crash the other day?
    Alan, Brussels, Belgium

    Strictly speaking, only America, and perhaps China, are superpowers these days

    Paul, London, UK

    It depends on how you define "superpower". Strictly speaking, only America, and perhaps China, are superpowers these days. But this is irrelevant, when the biggest threat to international security is not state-fronted conflict but terrorism, state-sponsored or otherwise. Also, there are so many smaller nations that have proven very hard nuts to crack, even if they don't have nuclear weaponry: North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Somalia. By acting with apparent impunity, one could even call such nations "superpowers".
    Paul, London, UK

    The term "superpower" was coined to describe a country with the military potential to take on the rest of the world and win (going beyond the strength of the "great powers", which relied on alliances to provide a global balance of power). Despite its current problems, Russia still possesses a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the rest of the world, so, yes, it is still a superpower.
    Tom, USA

    I have travelled to Russia many times for business, and the place is a dump. And as far as being a superpower, they could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag.
    Ryan, Miami, USA

    The question should be "is anyone a superpower?" The war in Yugoslavia nearly destroyed NATO as a united force. The US was run out of Somalia. UK subjects are taken into custody for spying without the British being able to do anything. Who has any power really. It's a really fragile environment and anything can turn. Let's just hope that the winners won't be people bombing hospitals and basketball courts (US), or executing civilians (USSR) just for internal PR consumption.
    Yannis Fistikis, Greece

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