Expert analysis on the issues that shaped the election. President Trump came into office determined to improve ties with Russia.
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But the rest of the executive branch and the U. Congress have pursued tough policies toward Russia, imposing rafts of sanctions and expelling diplomats. The U. At the best of times, U. Moreover, there are global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, governing the Arctic, and dealing with the COVID pandemic that necessitate working together.
The challenge is to find an acceptable balance between cooperation and competition and to compartmentalize the relationship in a more effective way than at present.
After the USSR collapsed, many in the United States assumed that once the Russians had thrown off the shackles of Soviet communism they would want to the West and become more like Americans and Europeans. S sent political and economic advisers to work with officials and people in the nascent private sector to promote democracy and markets. Today, Russia defines its security perimeter not as the borders of the Russian Federation, but as the borders of the former Soviet Union.
It demands that the United States and Europe acknowledge this. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has become a centralized, authoritarian state and has returned as a global player, competing with the United States for influence.
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Although it is weaker than the U. Washington and Moscow have fundamentally different ideas about what a productive relationship would look like. There have been two periods in recent history when cooperation between the U. Relations began to sour when Putin returned to the Kremlin inconvinced that Hillary Clinton had been behind the demonstrators who had protested his return to power. The next year, Putin granted political asylum to Edward Snowden, the disgruntled NSA contractor who stole millions of classified documents and fled to Russia via Hong Kong.
Obama then canceled a planned summit with Putin. Following months of popular protests, the pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia and was replaced by a pro-Western government. During the next few months, Russian-backed separatists and Russian troops wearing no inia moved in to occupy the parts of the Donbas region in southeastern Ukraine, ousting the legitimate local authorities.
Since the spring ofRussia and Ukraine have been fighting a war in the Donbas region in which 14, have died. Since then, Washington and Moscow have had to deconflict their air operations in Syria to prevent unanticipated collisions. After the U. The decisive major blow to U. As detailed in the Mueller Report, a troll factory in St. Petersburg worked round the clock to use social media to exacerbate the political polarization that existed in U.
Russia also tried to penetrate election machines in some states, raising the possibility that it could seek to change the outcome of future elections.
The election interference via social media has continued into the electoral cycle. These treaties have for 50 years set limits on the s of warhe and delivery vehicles each side can have and they allow for on-site verification to ensure compliance. New START could be extended for another 5 years as-is while the two sides negotiate about what a future treaty that takes into the modernization of nuclear weapons and the growth of cyber capabilities should involve.
Both the U. If this is not extended, then by there will be nothing limiting the nuclear arsenals of the U. Resolving the conflict in Ukraine will remain a very difficult. It needs to a more active role. While there is little that Washington can do to draw Moscow away from Beijing, it should not pursue policies that drive the two countries closer together, such as the trade war with China and rafts of sanctions against Russia.
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Moreover, the sanctions such as those on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany have adversely impacted U. The pipeline is delayed, but it will almost certainly be completed. Congressionally-imposed sanctions are a blunt punitive instrument carrying few incentives to induce Russia to rethink its policies. They should be re-examined in terms of their effectiveness as a tool for affecting Russian behavior. But developing a more productive relationship with Russia will remain a major challenge for the United States.
Washington and Moscow have different understandings of the drivers of world politics.
It seeks U. So far, no U. The China-Russia relationship has become an increasingly robust, pragmatic strategic partnership sincein part because the United States is pursuing policies that have driven the two countries closer together.
Ryan Hass unpacks what led China to become a more prominent political issue in the U. Voter Vitals Non-partisan, fact-based explainers on important issues for American voters. Multimedia Videos and podcasts on key election issues.
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Why are us-russia relations so challenging?
The Vitals. Under Putin, Russia has become a centralized, authoritarian state and has returned as a global player, competing with the United States for influence.
A closer look. How did we get to where we are today? What are the most pressing issues for the next administration to tackle?
Angela Stent. Lindsey Ford James Goldgeier.