The Russia Challenge: Prospects for U.S.-Russian Relations
President Barack Obama's first meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev brought a halt, at least temporarily, to the deterioration in bilateral relations between Russia and the United States. Next month Obama will visit Moscow, seeking to further his administration's goal of resetting and improving relations with Russia. Improved ties with Russia are clearly in U.S. interests, as is Russian cooperation in dealing with a range of strategic issues. The key question is whether U.S.-Russian relations can improve in a serious, sustainable way? The short answer is no. Barring changes in Russia behavior and policy, Obama's efforts to reshape relations between Washington and Moscow will face serious, perhaps insurmountable, hurdles. This brief argues that the current Russian leadership does not, for the most part, share American interests, threat perceptions, or values and that as long as that is the case, extensive cooperation and significantly improved relations will be difficult to achieve.