The Russian-United States relationship has been majorly bilateral. Russia is the successor state to the Soviet Union that was formerly in place before its decline. Russia and the US maintain diplomatic relations that have been in place for over 200 years (U.S Department of State, 2015). However, there has been a string of difficulties in the relationship majorly of mutual interests with conflicts arising due to policy issues and supremacy battles between the States. The relations were strained further following the 2014 Ukrainian crisis that led to the fall out of states allied to the US and others allied to Russia regarding the Russian involvement in the Ukraine. The Syria Civil War of which Russia under Putin is perceived as an ally to Syria whereas the US as is the West are against the Syrian administration causing further strains in the US-Russian relationship (Ziegler, 671). The conflicts and disagreements between the two powerful states have made many critics assume that it is characteristic of the advent of Cold War II as there are mutual trade and investments restricted in reaction to the differences on international matters. Following the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War in September 2015, the two countries are now perceived as engaging in a proxy war in a situation that some of the media houses have branded as an "a proto-world war. " Over the course of time, one US administration after the other has had its share of conflicts and at the same time working together with Russia on matters of mutual interests (Ziegler, 672). Moscow and Washington maintain a bold face and engage in bilateral talks that confuse individuals on the nature of the relationship between the states. I, however, think that the relationship between the Countries is one marked by supremacy battles and can be termed as an “abusive marriage” that cannot be broken anytime soon because they are both aware of the need to work together on some issues due to their global standing and hence still need one another.
The relationship between Russia and the US has been multifaceted for the past over 200 years of its existence (U.S Department of State, 2015). In fact, at one point, the US and Russia shared a border when Russia had a settlement at Fort Ross in California. Over the course of time, the countries have competed for the political and economic influence that resulted in conflicts but also had to cooperate on issues that meet mutual global challenges. In 2007, the governmental and the private organizations in Russia and the United States marked the bicentennial of their diplomatic relationship with the events that illustrated the depth and history in the relationship. Historically, the relations between the two countries goes way back in the mid 19th century when Russia sold Alaska to the United States (U.S Department of State, 2015). The period was marked by commercial joint ventures and Russia strongly supported the United States during the American Civil War. The 20th century, however, experiences a series of conflicts and tense relations but the two countries found a common ground to continue with the talks and at times upheld the cooperation on issues that required their joint action. The strained the relationship between the states continued until 1933 when they again needed one another. However, over the course of time, the countries still supported one another on issues such as the famine that struck the Soviet Union from 1921 to 1923 with the United States offering humanitarian assistance to the country (U.S Department of State, 2015).
The Second World War led to the two nations leaving behind their conflicts and differences and joined to fight in the same front against the same enemy. However, the period of cooperation and peaceful coexistence again ended with the onset of the Cold War just two years after ending the World War II. The military of the countries also opposed one another I Europe and across the globe over issues on the economy, energy and others (U.S Department of State, 2015). Nevertheless, there was continued cultural, sports. Scientific and educational exchanges maintained by the countries. They also engaged in summits that led to important arms treaties keeping the lines of communication between the two nations open and the US and the Soviet astronauts even ventured into space together in 1975 on the Apollo-Soyuz mission. All the conflict and cooperation at the same time happened during the Cold War and beyond making the relationship between the countries controversial and confusing to the least (U.S Department of State, 2015).
The US-Russian relation has been one of interesting nature since its beginning being marked by conflicts and cooperation at the same time. Before the Second World War began, the United States gave the Soviet Union of which Russia was part of, millions of dollars worth of weapons and support as they formed an alliance with the Nazi Germany (Ziegler, 681). The two countries became strong allies in the liberation of Europe and the ending of the war. By the end of the War, the Soviet Union that had occupied some countries became very influential and maintained control of the countries including some part of Germany. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred the territory under the Soviet’s control as an Iron Curtain. The relations between the two countries that had now become the World’s superpowers continued to thrive and blossom until the advent of the Cold War that severely dented the relationship and ultimately led to the falling of the USSR and the rising of Russia that was the largest part of the former Soviet Union. The cold war was majorly a struggle between the communist and the capitalist forms of economy and social organization. The war ran from 1947 to 1991 when it ended marking the rising of Russia that adopted a more democratic and capitalistic structure of governance. However, the aftermath of the Cold War is still felt to date in the Russian-US relationship as it still colors the relation of the states. This marked continued suspicion and supremacy battles over the course of time with each country ensuring that they form their alliances independent of the other (Ziegler, 681-685).
The potholed and complicated relationship between the two countries was further indicated after the Cold war when the countries rebuilt the relationship again and became strong allies even after the conflict that led to the downfall of the USSR. The Cold War ended and offered Russia and the US new opportunities that they could exploit and hence the need for cooperation. Russia took the permanent seat that gave them veto power as was held by the former Soviet Union at the United Nations Security Council. It is this that emphasizes the fact that the US and Russia despite their differences and conflicts still need to work together for the sake of the United Nations that was formed to avert the happening of a third world war and was also instituted to ensure world peace and prosperity. With Russia holding veto power like the US, then they need one another for the Security Council to be operational (Ziegler, 690). The Cold war had already caused enough trouble to the council, but the new arrangement between Russian and the US meant that it was a new beginning at the United Nations. Russia was further invited to join the G-7 that was an informal gathering of the top seven most powerful states in the world and its joining made it the G-8. The two countries further mended their relations by agreeing to work together to improve the issues that rose because of the former Soviet control and aimed at securing the “loose nukes” in the former territory of the Soviet Union (Ziegler, 689). It marked the allied nature that began with the relation, but it was just to mend the breaking relationship and the fact that the countries needed one another for them to keep asserting their control in Europe and beyond.
The relations between Russia and the US has further become confusing over time. The breaking up of the Soviet Union in 1921 and the ending of the Cold War resulted in the relationship between Russia and the United States to take an entirely new dimension with the contacts between the citizens expanding rapidly in number and diversity (Ziegler, 672). The Russians and the American continued to work together at a bilateral and multilateral level in a broad range of areas. The states work together at combating terrorism, HIV/Aids, and other infectious diseases, nuclear arms proliferation among other global issues. However, the same period has been marked by a broad array of issues and conflicts that point to a potential advent of a new Cold War between the two countries. Analysts observe that Russian ad the Unite States have an inevitable Cold War in their hands with critics arguing that the relationship between the two countries is at a critical moment. The Civil war in Ukraine is one of the issues that has led to a deadly stalemate between the countries, and this has further been worsened by Russia ramping up its presence in Syria in support of Assad’s regime strongly opposed by the United States and other NATO powers (Ziegler, 673). These disagreements have increased the danger of a possible confrontation between the countries. However, the crisis has also opened up a potential of further cooperation with the Islamic states and the ISIS that is a raw global threat of terrorism following the attack on France and other terrorist activities. There is increased anti-Americanism in Russia in the recent past as evidenced in the latest Levada Center public polling data (Ziegler, 675). There is, therefore, the need for Washington and Moscow to work on a plan to save the relationship and to solve the crisis that is dampening the cooperation. It is a fact realized by the sitting presidents Putin of Russia and Obama of the United States who have engaged in bilateral talks in the recent past to end the stalemate.
The relationship between Russia and the United States has shifted in perspective with regime changes in the countries. During the Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush presidencies in Russian and the United States respectively, there were serious disagreements witnessed. Russia, under Putin, took a more assertive stance in international affairs while the United States under Bush took an increased unilateral stance in its foreign policy. It was in the wake of the September 11 attacks characterized by the withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in a direct effort by the United States to move forward with plans to put up a system for defense against missiles in Poland. Putin strongly opposed the move and called it a mistake (Larson, Deborah and Alexei, 65). Putin further opposed the invasion of Iraq by the US and began viewing the continued interests of the United States in the Asia and Europe as a possible hostile encroachment especially with the construction of missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic. Putin likened the move by Bush to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The conflict deepened further with the Russian-Venezuelan military cooperation of which Venezuela was viewed as being more of a US ally and hence was a deliberate move by Russia to confront the US (Ambrosio, Thomas, and Geoffrey, 435). However, with President Obama and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev administrations from 2009 to 2010, there was a reset in the relations between the countries. President Obama struck a warm tone at the 2009 G20 Summit in London and went ahead to release a joint statement that promised a “fresh start” in the US-Russia relations (Larson, Deborah and Alexei, 80). By the year 2010, the United States and Russia had made some agreement like to reduce the stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The two presidents signed the nuclear arms reduction on April 8, 2010, further mending the relationship between the countries. This kind of conflict and then coming back together has characterized the relationship between Russia and the United States over the years.
In conclusion, the relations between the United States and Russia in existence for the past over 200 years have been marked by incidents of cooperation and alliances as well as aggravated conflict. It is has been a delicate relationship marked by a conflict that many would assume that will lead to armed conflict in some cases, but the two states have always found a common ground to agree on some issues (Ambrosio, Thomas, and Geoffrey, 466). The United States has had to maintain the relationship with Russia because of their increased interest in global issues of which they need the countries that have veto powers in the United Nations Security Council to work together. The relationship is one that is tense in some instances, but the tension is diluted by the fact that they cannot exist and assert their power on the global scene without their cooperation. Moreover, there are some issues they agree on, and more often than not, they have more to lose in conflict than they stand to gain by remaining as allies. With the increased terrorist threats from the ISIS, it is a renewed motivation for mending the relationship between the States to fight the global terror threat since it is widely known that the countries need their alliances if they are to successful at fostering peace globally and averting the possibility of a Third World War. Therefore, the relationship between the United States and Russia is complicated and based on survival other than being one of the allies and cannot be broken anytime soon because they need one another to maintain their global standing.
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