This policy outlook examines the underlying causes of the strained relations between the US and Russia and aims to analyse its future trajectory.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, tensions between the US and Russia have steadily increased with the new ruptures causing relations to become frostier. Russia’s projection of power, interference into US elections and cyber-attacks on US agencies are some of the current issues causing Washington to adopt a more confrontational approach. These are in addition to the Biden administration’s stated concerns for democracy and human rights issues in Russia. Moscow has also grown increasingly concerned over the longstanding US policy of NATO enlargement and the West’s support for pro-democracy movements in Russia and neighbouring countries. Given the history of rivalry between the two, which exacerbates threat perceptions and complicates the process of establishing a trust-based relationship, the possibility of more cooperative and less confrontational relations in the short term is low. This could change should Russia perceives China’s rise as a more serious strategic threat than the US.Download the Policy Outlook