Emerging U.S. Policy Toward Russia
Smulcer, Lauren A.
Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008 brought the subject of U.S.-Russian relations to the forefront of political discourse, albeit for a short while. Since then, the United States’ main foreign policy concerns have shifted back to the major problems it faces in the near future: the global economic crisis, the process of leaving Iraq, and the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Still, relations between the United States and Russia are at their lowest point since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the United States may have to contend with Russia in the coming months or years. Much of the tension between the two nations has to do with the problem of spheres of influence, as much of Eastern Europe has come to favor friendlier relations with the United States in recent years. It is in these regions along the Russian border that the tensions are at their highest, as exemplified by the recent clash between Russia and Georgia. Additionally, Russia’s control over a large share of the natural gas supplies to Western Europe presents the possibility of a potential conflict. Yet, the United States maintains a carefully measured stance in regard to its policy toward Russia, with the Obama administration adopting a cautious and moderate tone in its statements on the subject. In the coming years, the Obama administration’s challenge will be to increase cooperation with Russia on areas of mutual interest while limiting potential fallout on contentious issues.