Point of View

Russia’s best enemy. Russian policy towards the United States in Putin’s era

Russia’s best enemy

Relations between Russia and the United States are characterised by an asymmetry against Russia, whose expectations vis-à-vis the US remain unmet. The dynamics of Russia’s policy towards the US in the last sixteen years has been one of cyclic fluctuations. The recurrent scheme starts with a normalisation and positive developments in mutual relations at the onset of each new US president’s term, and end with an escalation of tensions and a crisis at the end of each presidency. Russia is too weak to be recognised by the United States as an equal partner or opponent, but too strong to be willing or able to accept the status of an inequitable, tactical ally of the US. Moreover, Moscow has hardly anything to offer the US in a positive sense, apart from possibly limiting the negative impacts of its policies on Washington’s interests. Making predictions about Russian-American relations at this moment is very risky. In the most likely scenario, the traditional pattern will again be repeated with Donald Trump’s new administration. However, that does not mean that Russia will inevitably suffer a strategic defeat, as Moscow may take advantage of the further weakening of the United States and the West.