Policy Memos

Is Russia Really an Ally?

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:




U.S.-Russian relations have been strengthened considerably over the last year. Two developments led to this improvement: Russian president Vladimir Putin’s support for the United States in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and U.S. president George W. Bush’s decision to establish friendly working relations with Putin in order to secure Russian acquiescence to the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. One result has been a greater tendency to describe the relationship as an alliance. Igor Ivanov, Russia’s foreign minister, noted that cooperation between the two countries in combating terrorism “has made Russia and the United States allies again--for the first time since World War II.” U.S. ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, suggested that the “new strategic relationship” established by Presidents Bush and Putin in May 2002 is “the beginning of a long-term security partnership--perhaps an alliance--between our two countries based on common interests.”

But what is the nature of this nascent alliance, and whose interests does it serve? In particular, how do Russians view the U.S.-Russian alliance? This memo will examine Russian views of improved U.S.-Russian relations, describing three distinct schools in the Russian political elite. These are identified as the using Russia, who’s using who?, and the losing Russia views.

The memo will then discuss how U.S. military action against Iraq might be viewed by different groups in Russia, and how the current U.S.-Russian relationship fits with the Bush administration’s alliance policies. [...]

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