Economic Whiplash in Russia
February 19, 2009
Understanding the ramifications of Russia’s economic crisis for its foreign policy is critically important. Since the crisis hit, Russia’s foreign policy moves have largely been characterized by greater assertiveness, as demonstrated by the “gas war” with Ukraine. As a result, some analysts have concluded that Russia is on a path toward confrontation with the West. However, it is too early to make definitive judgments about the direction in which the crisis will push Russian policy. In fact, the crisis has created incentives for the Russians to work with Western partners, in particular on economic issues. Therefore, now is the time for the Obama administration to put a higher priority on commercial ties with Russia. Closer economic relations are in the U.S. national interest, create conditions for cooperation on noneconomic issues, and provide a stronger foundation for the bilateral relationship. This report recommends 10 steps that the Obama administration can take to bolster commercial ties between the United States and Russia.