This piece argues that the United States must find a way to co-exist with Russia in order to advance America’s interests, assesses Russia’s power, and offers policy recommendations going forward.
Russia possesses the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, which poses an existential threat to the U.S. Avoiding escalation that could result in hostilities—and potentially nuclear war—remains the highest U.S. national security priority with respect to Russia.
While its behavior is often destabilizing, aggressive, and illiberal, U.S. analysts and decision-makers can better predict and counter Russia’s foreign policies by understanding the logic of how it seeks to fulfill its core national interests, as it understands them.
Treating Russia as a perennial pariah makes advancing U.S. interests more difficult. Russia is a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council. Its limited but potent regional power allows it to play spoiler and power broker on some issues tied to important U.S. interests.