What’s going on with Russia? Managing U.S.-Russian relations is one of the most important priorities for any American administration. Russia is an active player in key global issues, and with its enormous nuclear arsenal, is the only foreign state that represents a true existential threat to the United States. And yet, the relationship between Washington and Moscow is in its worst state in decades.
While recent Russian interference in the U.S. political system captures headlines, Moscow’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, destabilizing support for Bashar al-Assad’s repressive actions in Syria, and interference in European political processes have been profound challenges for U.S. foreign policy for several years. On the other hand, many Russians see their country’s position vis-à-vis NATO as fundamentally defensive. The United States, they argue, has encircled Russia with its military, fostered global instability, and undertaken its own form of election meddling around the world and in Moscow itself. While many on both sides express a desire for change, attempts to reset the relationship have not yielded results.
On December 5, the Brookings Institution and the Charles Koch Institute assembled four scholars and practitioners of U.S. foreign policy to debate these issues on U.S.-Russia relations at the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs in Chicago.