Pressing the "Reset Button" on U.S.-Russia Relations
March 5, 2009
Whither Russia? Russia’s economic circumstances as well as its articulated goals hold the answer to this eternal question. Drawing on our analysis in the forthcoming book The Russia Balance Sheet, we outline here a policy approach for the Barack Obama administration. We believe our views reflect to some degree an emerging consensus for the new administration’s Russia policy.
Russia is important for US foreign policy in many ways. The United States needs a more constructive relationship with Russia to address many core global security issues including nuclear security and nonproliferation, terrorism, energy, and climate change. The United States also needs to assume a stronger leadership role in reforming the institutions of global governance as the international system evolves in a more pluralistic direction. Assimilating the rapidly rising emerging powers—including Russia—will be easier if Russia is a constructive partner rather than an obstructionist outsider or, worse, a revanchist bully.
The global financial crisis and Russia’s battered international reputation in the wake of the August 2008 war in Georgia and its January 2009 gas war compel Russian leaders to reconsider its foreign policy. At this critical juncture, the United States has a new opportunity to shape how Russia conceives of its interests, and we suggest steps the United States can take to improve its Russia policy.