There have been numerous articles on the authoritarian strengthening of power in Russia and Putin’s backsliding from democracy throughout the 2000’s. Russian positions and initiatives in Syria and Ukraine have been portrayed within media venues across the West as evidence of quasi-Soviet revanchism. In the midst of this there has been very little consideration of the impact of American positioning on the Russian perspective. This article examines that infl uence, whether it is the openly adversarial neoconservative foundation under George Bush or the Republican Party in general, the so-called ‘reset’ interaction under Barack Obama, or American foreign policy analysts and academics meant to be experts on Russia. What will be exposed is a fairly uninspired and non-innovative American policy that not only fails to consider Russian initiatives from Russia’s own national security interests, but aims to contain Russia within a continued Cold War box that not only sours opportunities for collaboration but guarantees the absence of partnership in important global security areas. The idea that Russia’s contemporary positions have not evolved beyond the residue of Cold War mentalities seems to be more a product of scholars and practitioners in the West rather than in the institutions of Russia itself. This piece examines the consequences of imagining Russia only as nemesis and whether the West is more responsible for this Cold War pathology than it is willing to admit.