Here is an excerpt from my latest article in Foreign Policy, in which I discuss the relationship between Russia and the U.S.:

Rising tensions in the relationship between the United States and Russia are beginning to cause a “Cool War” — a sort of Cold War-lite — that threatens both Washington and the entire global geopolitical system. Without a functioning relationship between Washington and Moscow, the chances of solving major challenges — from Iran to Syria, the Arctic to Afghanistan — decreases dramatically. Rather than accept the arc of a deteriorating relationship, the United States should actively seek every possible zone of cooperation we can find with Russia, despite the frustrations and setbacks.

United States President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk to the G8 Summit dinner following their bilateral meeting in Ireland on 17 June 2013. Photo: Pete Souza/Wikipedia

United States President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk to the G8 Summit dinner following their bilateral meeting in Ireland on 17 June 2013. Photo: Pete Souza/Wikipedia

The list of key disagreements is long: One of the more nettlesome challenges is Syria, where the United States believes in an international solution with intervention as an option and the removal of Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad. Syria represents Russia’s strongest link to the region and access to the strategically important Eastern Mediterranean, as well as a market for arms and intelligence cooperation.

Likewise, the United States and Russia are at loggerheads about NATO missile defense systems being deployed to Eastern Europe, initially to Romania and Poland to defend against Iran’s growing ballistic missile capability. Russia believes the system is actually directed against their strategic intercontinental ballistic missile systems, despite repeated U.S. assurances to the contrary.

Taken together, there is a sense of a Cool War mentality at work. On the positive side, however, it is a bit of a mixed picture, with some existing areas of cooperation.

First, and somewhat surprisingly, is Afghanistan. Despite their own failures in Afghanistan, Russia has been generally helpful to the United States and the NATO-led coalition there — sharing intelligence, cooperating on counternarcotics, selling rugged Russian-built helicopters, and donating small arms and ammunition to the Afghan security forces.


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