As the U.S. presidential election approaches on November 8, Carnegie.ru asked three experts, one in Russia, one in the United States, and one in Europe, to comment on the question: “Is the break between the Putin administration and the West permanent?”
Moscow is trying to rattle Washington by projecting its political and military might as the most dangerous crisis develops in U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War era. The suspension of the 2000 plutonium agreement may threaten a whole range of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation treaties.
The Russian leadership has precipitated an even graver confrontation with the United States, abandoning its ambition for a diplomatic leadership role in Syria. The rupture looks like a preemptive strike by Russia in the context of the U.S. election campaign.
The most advantageous option for Russia and the United States is to sign another START agreement on more cuts in nuclear weapons. However, if that is not possible, it makes sense for the two sides to extend the current treaty signed in 2010.
The risk of outright conflict in Europe is higher than it has been for years and the confrontation between Russia and the West shows no sign of ending. To prevent misunderstandings and dangerous incidents, the two sides must improve their methods of communication.
The sympathy expressed by President Putin and the Russian media for the victims of the Orlando attack gives Russia the opportunity to discard its discredited homophobic policies and to attempt a similar offer of rapprochement to the one Putin extended after the September 11 attacks.
Unlike in the Cold War, the current Russia-United States confrontation is asymmetrical, which carries different dangers. Cooperation will remain limited and Barack Obama’s successor will most likely take a harsher stance on Russia.
Russia’s unpredictability means there is a lack of clarity on the direction the country will take after 2018. Is NATO membership really crucial for Finland and Sweden in the long term if Russia follows the best-case scenario, or even if it enters a state of inertia?
President Putin’s announcement that he is pulling back from Syria should not have come as a big surprise. He believes he has met most of his goals there—many of which have nothing to do with Syria itself. Russia has found a way back to the table where the world’s board of directors sits and resolves regional conflicts together.