Relations Between Russia and the United States

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Relations Between Russia and the United States


Today, the tension in the relationship between these two countries becomes acute. There are many causes proving this fact. They include the conflict in the Middle East and some issues of recognition of unrecognized states (Vandiver, 2012, p. 78). In the recent years, the relations between the Russian Federation and the United States have become contradictory. The problems in the relations between Russia and the United States have changed since they want to become a center of political and economic systems. Therefore, these two superpowers cannot find a common language. The open hostility between the USA and Russia has started with the issue of separating the Crimea from Ukraine and including it to the Russian territories. Moreover, the conflict has been heated with the subsequent events in the southeast of Ukraine. After the so-called Crimean clash, the United States, as a long-standing economic partner of Russia, has imposed numerous sanctions (Government, 2014). The US has taken some measures to tighten controls on selling the Russian goods. The exclusion of the US from the developing countries, as well as the General System of Trade Preferences, has become the cause of a significant increase in prices for the imported goods into Russia. Due to these changes, many enterprises of the country simply cannot get engaged in trading with other states (Nelson, 2015).

The main stakeholders in the conflict are involved in the development of the problem are the US administration headed by Barack Obama, particularly, the US Department of State, headed by John Kerry and especially the law enforcement agencies. From the Russian side, stakeholders are the Russian Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Sergey Lavrov acting on behalf of the country’s President Vladimir Putin. NATO and the European Union are also taking indirect participation in the development of the problem. The crisis in Russian-American relations was preceded by quite intensive negotiations. The different geopolitical interests of two superpowers cause the conflict. This situation is complicated by the fact that the issue in Syria is strategic. For example, today, Aleppo is important as the historical center, it is important both strategic and militarily. The fact is that without the cooperation of Russia and the US in the region, the region will not get peace. Thus, talks Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry pursued the main goal which was to prevent the conflict between Russia and the United States in Syria. However, there can not be an effective cooperation, because Russia and the United States have completely different purposes and interests. In fact, the US has not abandoned the plans to dismantle the Syrian regime. The interests of the USA involve the military defeat of Russia in Syria, although it has never openly declared, but it is understood since it is a condition for the fall of the Assad regime and the formation of the government in Damascus. At the same time, Russia believes that if the government in Syria will be shifted, in the future the intervention will occur in the allied countries, such as Russia, even likely, in the CIS countries and Central Asia. Russia has big interests in the Middle East. Russia is the largest supplier of weapons to Syria. Secondly, from the point of view of geopolitics, Russia does not want the countries which set up an alliance with it, were defeated by the US (Trenin, 2016). Otherwise, the governing authority and Russia’s reputation would be seriously affected.

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Among the possible effects of the conflict between Russia and the US, it could be noted that it can escalate into a confrontation similar to that they have experienced in the era of the cold war. Moreover, military conflict between Russia and the United States in Syria is possible. It can be evidenced by the fact that Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal by introducing a new generation of nuclear bombers, ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons for submarines. Thus, in spite of the international agreement on the reduction of nuclear weapons, the Kremlin is seeking to increase its nuclear potential to outweigh the high firepower of the United States. The Pentagon is also intended to invest in the modernization of nuclear weapons (Trenin, 2016). After that, the third world war in the spirit of the First World War can start. Of course, the two most powerful nuclear powers can not afford even a small local conflict. One small skirmish between Moscow and Washington could easily lead to the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and then strategic. Presumably, no one power in the world is interested in aggravating the situation to such a critical point since this confrontation will be a catalyst for conflicts in other parts of the world.

Causes of the Conflict

The economy of the world is based on energy. Most of services as well as goods are produced with the help of electricity and power generation. It is related to hydrocarbons and, to a lesser degree, to nuclear power plants. Russia may be ranked as the first country in the whole world for its oil and natural gas production (“A New Cold War,” 2014).Therefore, it possesses a tool of influence on both economy and politics worldwide. At the same time, the US needs to get control of oil in Russia because of the country’s trade interests. Without a doubt, this scenario contradicts with the  interests of the Russian Federation that is interested to keep control itself. The conflicts of interest, to a much or lesser degree, is present in other areas as well such as nuclear power plants building and operations (“A New Cold War,” 2014).

The second point is that the financial power of the USA is based on its currency. Meanwhile, its military strength is tightly associated with the financial support. For the US, it is critically important to preserve the hegemony of its currency system. The whole planet leads the international trading in US dollars. From a perspective of Russia, to cease the scale of its usage some actions should be done to make the ruble stronger. However, in terms of the US, the dollar rejection means that the United States will no longer make any profits from the Russian trading. Moreover, if Russia refuses the US currency, the chain reaction of transition to the national currency may start in the world. After that, the dollar zone will decrease, and it will fall sharply. Therefore, the US economy will get into a deep crisis for a couple of years (“A New Cold War,” 2014). Moreover, the core problematic issues between the Russian Federation and the US include the help of Russia to Iran. It assisted Iran in the development of the nuclear program, which the USA had considered unacceptable. Moreover, the events that happened in Georgia, Ukraine, and Palestine are the painful points as well. In order to develop a democratic society, the US finances the Russian non-governmental organizations and movements (Trenin, 2016).

In 2013, there were many topics of disagreement between Russia and the US. These ones included the events in Syria and North Korea, missile defense, as well as the position of non-profit organizations in Russia (Tikhonova, 2015). The arrest of Ryan Fogle also has contributed to the further worsening of relations between these two superpowers (Tikhonova, 2015). In addition, granting asylum to Edward Snowden has also increased the tension. This act of Russia has been considered as an open hostility in some layers of the community in the USA (Tikhonova, 2015). There was a special statement of the White House regarding the cancellation of the visit of Barack Obama to Moscow to meet Putin in September 2013. It was noted there that there had been no progress over the last year on the issues such as weapon control, trade and economic relations, global security issues, the rights of human and civil society, and missile defense (Tikhonova, 2015).

In March of 2014, there was an extreme exacerbation in the relations between the two superpowers due to the Crimean crisis. The Secretary Kerry has said that now there is no way to reset relationships between these two countries (Tikhonova, 2015). The qualitatively new phase has started. It has been noted that the US-Russian relations got colder than ever for the entire period since 1991. In June 2015, the tension between them became more serious because of an intent of the United States to place heavy weapons in Eastern Europe (Tikhonova, 2015). In Russia, they called this move as the most aggressive one since the Cold War.

During the 2015 – 2025, the US is planning to spend 355 billion dollars on 12 new strategic submarines with nuclear weapon, for the hundred new strategic bombers, and new intercontinental ballistic missiles. These ones can be launched from mobile units and more than a thousand of cruise missiles, which can carry a nuclear warhead. Russia and the United States are beginning to completely restore the nuclear arsenal of the Cold War (U.S. Government and U.S. Army. 2014).

The USA Perspective

For several decades, Russia has been considered as the only country in the world that can destroy the United States with nuclear weapons or at least harm it (Cimbala, 2013). The US military interests require solving this problem in one of three ways: to eliminate nuclear weapons in Russia, make Russia obey or to find a way to protect the country from its missiles (“A New Cold War,” 2014). In the United States, these issues are considered as the matter of national security. Besides, the US cannot be satisfied with the fact that the Russian Federation uses its mineral resources as a tool of pressure within the foreign policy (“A New Cold War,” 2014). Moreover, the USA cannot allow the violation of human rights in Russia and the way it acts in the international arena. The fact that this country does not stop its cooperation with Iran, Syria, North Korea, and other states, alarming the United States, leads to the permanent US-Russian conflict in the UN Security Council (Ruff, 2016).

Russia wants to be the hegemonic power in the region. It is exactly what the United States, at least with its current foreign policy, cannot possibly allow. Russia borders with several states, which the US has the obligation to protect. They are as important as the American areas. If Russia tries to establish its dominance over the Baltic countries, it automatically will bring the United States and the Russian Federation in a state of conflict. In the end, if the alliance with the US to provide security at all has any value, it must assume that its members do not threaten the hegemonic intentions. Such ones are so inherent to Russian actions. Regional hegemony of Russia and the NATO are two things that simply cannot coexist (Antonov, 2016, p. 45).

Russian Perspective

The Russian point of view involves the statement that the American elite is not ready to treat the initial country as an equal partner. The Russian Federation argues that the elite of the US believe that they have won in the Cold War with the Soviet Union and that they can now act towards Russia as a vanquished state, without worrying about the rules of decency. They believe that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has more than once helped the US and always kept promises (Antonov, 2016, p. 51). However, in response, America has repeatedly betrayed Russia and undermined its security.

Geopolitics is also a problematic topic for the Russian Federation. Three northern regions of Eurasia (Northern Europe, Russia, and China) have some assets and labor resources that create a great power. Accordingly, for the last two centuries, the Russian foreign policy has been directed at the cooperation or alliance with China or major European powers in order to create the union. Therefore, Russia considers the last imperative of the dominant power in North America to be the best application for such cooperation never to occur again. Russian authorities believe that the USA makes some efforts to divide Eurasia into many weak states.

At the beginning of 2007, the conflict erupted with a new strength. The plans of the US was a cause to deploy the parts of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. According to the US leadership, the move was aimed at protecting Europe from the North Korean and Iranian missiles (Cimbala, 2008, p. 34). The authorities in Russia did not accept this viewpoint. The US side have claimed that they consider necessary to prepare for a possible armed conflict with this country. In turn, Russia has evaluated the US foreign policy highly critically.

When considering the Russian perspective, one can come up with the conclusion that much of its foreign policy today is based on the consensus that was developed in the early 1990s. This consensus has its roots in the Soviet Union. It includes three geostrategic positions. The main idea claimed is that Russia must remain a nuclear superpower in all activities and international hegemony in the region being a political, military and economic leader (Motyl, 2015). This consensus has carried the trait which Russia cannot retreat for as, in this case, the state loses its pride and even national identity. This point of view has turned out to be surprisingly resistant, surviving post-revolutionary changes and the shifts of political regimes to Vladimir Putin. In Putin’s eyes, Russia must be a great power. Their main objective is to make the rest of the world including the United States to treat Russia accordingly.

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Currently, the USA analyzes many possible measures, including diplomatic, military, intelligence, and economic ones. Despite the problems in the political sphere, the United States is traditionally one of Russia’s leading trading partners. American companies have shown a considerable interest in the development of trading and economic cooperation with Russian regions. More for than 10 years, there has existed the Russian-American Pacific Partnership bringing together the representatives of business, science, social circles, as well as the federal and regional authorities of the Russia and the US. The United States has excluded Russia from the list of developing countries and from the General System of Trade Preferences. Since that time, the Russian goods imported into the United States are taxed in a normal manner. Some warming in the US-Russian relationships can begin with the restoration of trade connections up to the level being available before sanctions.


It is worth noting that solving of the conflict is possible only with ending up the issue related to Syria. In early September, the agreement on the cease-fire in this country was reached between the US and Russia, which has lasted only for a week. Earlier, it became known that the US expressed its willingness to implement new sanctions against Russia because of the escalation of the conflict in Syria. Thus, the best way to launch warming is to have the joint actions with the Russian Federation in the fight against the Islamist group IG (the organization, the activities of which are prohibited in Russia). In this case, America may make some progress with Russia despite some disagreements. These two countries should bring closer positions on the definition of the list of groups that can be considered terroristic (Abboud, 2016). Moreover, Moscow supports an idea of convening an international meeting related to Syria. The draft resolution, where the principles of the political settlement in this country to be confirmed should be submitted for consideration. The Russian and US relations are in a state of crisis. However, the overall struggle against the Islamists in Syria can help to reconcile the positions of both sides to some extent as. It is despite the fact that the stumbling block is still associated with the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The two sides are interested in the preservation of this country as an integral state and the destruction of Islamist communities. Joining the Syrian conflict, Russia has not only pursued the goal of combating terrorism on the distant approaches but also wanted to improve the relations with the US, trying to get out of international isolation (Abboud, 2016). However, the success has been not achieved, as the US sanctions imposed on the country related to the Crimea are efficient. Finally, this way of solving the clash is possible since earlier the relations between Russia and the US regarding Syria have been influenced by the internal political situation in the United States. In the current election year, the US President Barack Obama did not want to do some drastic steps to prevent damage to the Democratic candidate in that period. Nowadays, a new approach is possible.