Five years into the brave new world ushered in by the collapse of the Communist system and the dramatic reshuffle of global geopolitics there has emerged a novel paradigm of Russian-American relations. This paradigm is no longer predominantly rooted in adversarial competition of the Cold War period, but neither may it be interpreted in terms of well established partnership and genuine cooperation, notwithstanding occasional official declarations to this effect on both sides.
Current US-Russian relations are marked by increased mutual tolerance, but at the same time a certain aloofness and desire to preserve equidistance. Ambivalence in intentions and attitudes is far from surprising. After all, what is a short half-decade of relative truce compared a half century spent in a near-death hostile embrace? Yet is it possible that progress already achieved in bilateral interaction will become the foundation for a long-term relationship that could perhaps be even more durable than the endless Cold War rivalry? The purpose of this article is to identify some of the elements of current Russian-American relations that appear to be not only sufficiently benign but also benignly sufficient to guide both countries toward the infinitely tempting but so far vaguely unspecified "real partnership." […]