US and Russia

7 July 2009

Talks between Presdidents Obama and Medvedev are reported to be going well, and it is a welcome sign that they seem to be forging a good rapport. Russia is an important power and should not be ignored or patronized by the west.

Some politicians and commentators are still fighting the Cold War, and see each other as the main threat. There is some substance to it, especially from the Russians’ point of view, who deeply resent the expansion of NATO into their sphere of interest. They drew the line at Georgia: they would not tolerate it.

There is a case to be made that the US and Russia have more in common than meets the eye initially. Both powers are unlikely to be back in the position of being the two greatest superpowers in the world, as happened during the Cold War, and in the US case the sole superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union. China is, arguably, already a global power, and others will join the ranks of very powerful regional powers.

The common challenge they face, therefore, is how to preserve their influence, as their military and economic powers decline relative to China and others. A strategic partnership between these two states may bring more benefit to them, than trying to fight each other for prestige and influence.