A Journal of the Institute for National Strategic StudiesRussia’s Revival: Ambitions, Limitations, and Opportunities for the United States
By John W. Parker
Independent Russia is approaching the start of its third decade of post-Soviet existence. After the economic chaos of the Boris Yeltsin decade and the recovery and stabilization of the Vladimir Putin decade, Russia’s leaders have high ambitions for a return to great power status in the years ahead. Their aspirations are tempered, however, by the realities of Russia’s social, economic, and military shortcomings and vulnerabilities, laid painfully bare by the stress test of the recent global financial crisis. Looking ahead, some also calculate that Russia will be increasingly challenged in the Far East by a rising China and in the Middle East by an Iran that aspires to regional hegemony...
Moscow is already seeking to strengthen Russia’s ties with Europe and the United States. The West is seen as crucial to Russia’s modernization as well as a hedge against what may develop to Russia’s east and south in coming decades. This process of Russia’s anchoring itself more firmly in the West will proceed with lots of tactical hiccups and sporadic crises. Nevertheless, it will bring consequences and opportunities for U.S. diplomacy and strategic development, some of which the Barack Obama administration’s policy of “reset” is already reaping. But Russian policy toward the United States is conditional on a U.S. approach that engages Russia in positive ways. If that policy were to change, it could push Russia and China closer together on some issues in an effort to constrain the United States.