The U.S. and Russia will most likely return to pragmatic relations after years of an ideologically-driven foreign policy under President Obama. However, both countries will probably harden their stance towards the other, and dramatic breakthroughs are unlikely.
Russia should rethink what it has inherited from the Soviet Union in nuclear matters, the role of nuclear weapons, and their relevance in the future. Furthermore, Russia should consider how it can best use to its own advantage the opportunities offered by the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and how this regime can be modified to meet the realities of the new century.
The priority of U.S.-Russian relations once again, as in the 1970s, is the development of stabilizing rules of conduct in case of an unauthorized military clash or conflict with third countries. The situation, however, may change. Will Moscow and Washington be able to keep the logic of mutual assured destruction, which for half a century has ensured peaceful bilateral relations?
Russia’s negative image in nuclear security, export controls and nonproliferation dates back to the early 1990s; it is based on a combination of real problems that existed at the time and Hollywood-like stories in the media. Until recently, that image has often stood in the way of practical contacts and politicized nuclear energy cooperation between Russia and the United States.
Vice President Joe Biden, the second most senior U.S. politician, and a man deeply involved in the country’s Russia policy, is in Moscow on a two day visit.
The past year and a half has witnessed a transition from deep crisis to a functional U.S.-Russian dialogue, and now both sides need a new forward-looking policy.
Containment, especially when based on nuclear deterrence, was the main link in the vicious circle that emerged in Russian-U.S. relations after World War II. The situation has changed dramatically since then, but people’s mindsets have not – you can’t trust the one you seek to deter. The lack of mutual trust makes it highly difficult to resolve conflicts.
Officials in Russia have shrugged off the latest portion of U.S. diplomatic leaks with their unflattering descriptions of many world leaders.
Whatever happens, responsible citizens must ensure that the country continue existing in any era and even in a world where things do not go better. Sad as it may seem, today nuclear weapons are the only possible and attainable attribute of the status of a great world power for Russia – even if one would like very much to believe that it is not so.
The role of nuclear weapons in ensuring the status and security of the Russian Federation seems to be over-exaggerated. It was the over-reliance on the nuclear potential (and military might in general) that finally ruined the Soviet Union, as it deprived it of an incentive to carry out a profound political and economic modernization. Russia must not repeat that mistake of relying too much on nuclear weapons as a guarantee of security and international prestige.
After the New START Treaty is ratified, it would be highly desirable to invite the U.S. leadership to enter into a broader politico-strategic dialogue than reductions of tactical nuclear weapons. To this end, Moscow could propose a joint search for ways to minimize risks stemming from the objectively existing situation of mutual nuclear deterrence.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.