This article was originally published as a chapter of the Transatlantic Book 2006, European Institute for Security Studies. “Managing the Russian Dilemma,” by Fiona Hill, begins on page 171 of the book.
Russia in 2005 presents a very different set of challenges for the United States and Europe than at other junctures over the last 20 years. Looking back to 1985, Russia is no longer—as it was then—the main threat to European security; nor is it the global strategic competitor for the United States. The emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and the eventual collapse of the USSR in 1991 effected a dramatic transformation of the European and broader geopolitical landscape. And, in contrast to 1995, Russia is no longer a shared “project” of the U.S. and Europe, when Washington and European capitals encouraged and promoted Russia’s market economic and democratic transformation and its entry into a “common European home” and trans-Atlantic partnerships. Disillusionment with Western-inspired reforms among the Russian population; the rise of President Vladimir Putin in 1999-2000 with a more inwardly-focused, strong state policy; the reversal by Putin’s government of many of the political advances of the 1990s; as well as strained relations with Euro-Atlantic institutions, have put Russia on another, more uncertain trajectory.