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The Limits of Partnership

The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century

Angela E. Stent
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 336
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    The Limits of Partnership
    Book Description:

    The Limits of Partnershipoffers a riveting narrative on U.S.-Russian relations since the Soviet collapse and on the challenges ahead. It reflects the unique perspective of an insider who is also recognized as a leading expert on this troubled relationship. American presidents have repeatedly attempted to forge a strong and productive partnership only to be held hostage to the deep mistrust born of the Cold War. For the United States, Russia remains a priority because of its nuclear weapons arsenal, its strategic location bordering Europe and Asia, and its ability to support--or thwart--American interests. Why has it been so difficult to move the relationship forward? What are the prospects for doing so in the future? Is the effort doomed to fail again and again?

    Angela Stent served as an adviser on Russia under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and maintains close ties with key policymakers in both countries. Here, she argues that the same contentious issues--terrorism, missile defense, Iran, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan, the former Soviet space, the greater Middle East--have been in every president's inbox, Democrat and Republican alike, since the collapse of the USSR. Stent vividly describes how Clinton and Bush sought inroads with Russia and staked much on their personal ties to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin--only to leave office with relations at a low point--and how Barack Obama managed to restore ties only to see them undermined by a Putin regime resentful of American dominance and determined to restore Russia's great power status.

    The Limits of Partnershipcalls for a fundamental reassessment of the principles and practices that drive U.S.-Russian relations, and offers a path forward to meet the urgent challenges facing both countries.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4845-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    The two summits were a study in contrasts. In June 2010 Barack Obama invited Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to a favorite eatery, Ray’s Hell Burgers, in Arlington Virginia, for a “cheeseburger summit.” The two presidents rolled up their sleeves, dined on gourmet burgers, and exchanged jokes in a friendly atmosphere.¹ The summit highlighted the two young post–Cold War leaders, both trained as lawyers, and the new high-tech U.S.-Russian relationship. Obama’s reset—his move to improve ties with Moscow—with its relaxed body language was on full display. After the two leaders announced a partnership for innovation, Medvedev flew on...

  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xx-xxii)
  6. Prologue
    (pp. 1-12)
    George H. W. Bush and Russia Reborn

    The Soviet Union ended not with a bang but with a speech. A sober Mikhail Gorbachev appeared on television to announce his resignation—and the end of the USSR—on December 25, 1991. “I hereby discontinue my activities at the post of President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” he said. “There were mistakes made that could have been avoided,” he added. He ended his brief speech on an upbeat note: “I am positive that sooner or later, some day our common efforts will bear fruit and our nations will live in a prosperous, democratic society.” But he also...

  7. Chapter One The Bill and Boris Show
    (pp. 13-34)

    Shortly before taking the oath of office in January 1993, Bill Clinton declared that what was happening in Russia was “the biggest and toughest thing out there. It’s not just the end of communism, the end of the cold war. That’s what’s over and done with. There’s also stuffstarting–stuff that’snew. Figuring out what it is, how we work with it, how we keep it moving in the right direction: that’s what we’ve got to do.”¹ Indeed, the challenge of supporting Russia’s postcommunist transition and defining its new international role consumed much of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy...

  8. Chapter Two Rethinking Euro-Atlantic Security
    (pp. 35-48)

    Where does Russia belong? As the largest country on earth, two-thirds of which is geographically in Asia, Russia views itself as both a European and an Asian country. Yet culturally Russians are Europeans, and Asians do not regard Russians as Asian. Nevertheless, Russia’s self-concept as a uniquely Eurasian country has created a permanent ambivalence about its place in Europe. For two centuries Russians have argued about whether they should follow the West or create their own, unique civilization that is neither Western nor Eastern and follows its own rules. Russia is both a part of Europe and apart from Europe,...

  9. Chapter Three Bush and Putin in the Age of Terror
    (pp. 49-81)

    Al Qaeda’s attacks on America’s financial center—New York’s World Trade Center—and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, changed forever the way that Americans thought about both their personal safety and their country’s security. But what was a national tragedy of immense proportions in the United States was seen in Russia as an opportunity to mend relations with the United States. Indeed, the Kremlin took the initiative. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Putin offered Russia as a strategic partner in the war on terror. At that point he believed that Russia’s future prosperity and status would be enhanced by...

  10. Chapter Four The Iraq War
    (pp. 82-96)

    After 2002 the Putin reset all but disappeared. U.S.-Russian relations began to fray as two issues became particularly contentious: the use of military force to effect regime change and the legitimacy of undertaking military intervention without United Nations sanction. U.S.-Russian disagreements over these issues would lead to an increasingly polarized relationship. Moscow insisted on the principle of sovereignty and nonintervention in other countries’ internal affairs, while Washington justified the use of military force to unseat a regime that it viewed as a threat to world security. The core of these divergences involved the issue of regime change in the greater...

  11. Chapter Five The Color Revolutions
    (pp. 97-123)

    In 2003 and 2004, developments in Russia’s neighborhood revealed how divisive the Freedom Agenda had become. A new issue inflamed U.S.-Russian relations—Washington’s role in supporting “color revolutions” in Russia’s backyard. The post-Soviet space had evolved into a battleground between the two countries.

    Russia has only partly reconciled itself to the loss of its former Soviet republics and continues to believe that it is entitled to special relations with these countries. The United States, by contrast, has insisted that these are independent states and that they have the right to choose their own geopolitical orientation. It has never acknowledged publicly...

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. 124-134)
  13. Chapter Six The Munich Speech
    (pp. 135-158)

    As far back as November 2003, Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair had had a conversation in which they talked about Vladimir Putin. The Russian president, they agreed, was turning out to be very different from what they had initially hoped for and it would be prudent to approach him with greater wariness.¹ By the beginning of 2006, that had turned into a wholesale reappraisal of the U.S. relationship with Russia. The ejection from Uzbekistan and continuing Russian criticism of U.S. policies in Ukraine and Georgia reinforced the White House’s conviction that the areas of bilateral cooperation were narrowing....

  14. Chapter Seven From Kosovo to Georgia: Things Fall Apart
    (pp. 159-176)

    Disagreements over the Balkans were a constant undercurrent in the U.S.-Russian relationship almost from the moment that the USSR collapsed. Moscow’s claim to be the protector of the Orthodox Serbs against the Muslims and Catholics in Yugoslavia provided a powerful narrative for a Kremlin that was intent on holding on to as much of its traditional spheres of influence as possible. Yeltsin’s Russia had been a reluctant partner in the NATO-led Bosnia campaign and the subsequent postwar peace-keeping force. Yet the Contact Group, where the United States, Russia, and key European countries met to discuss how to deal with the...

  15. Chapter Eight Economics and Energy: The Stakeholder Challenge
    (pp. 177-210)

    For the past two decades, each U.S. administration has fashioned its own distinctive political relationship with Russia. But the economic relationship has not been as dependent on which party or president is in office. Indeed, every U.S. administration since the Soviet collapse has promoted economic relations between the United States and Russia—and each has puzzled over why it has been such a challenge to enhance commerical and energy ties. The Russians have also consistently argued that there is considerable untapped potential in the economic relationship.

    This chapter discusses the development of commercial ties since 1991, situating them within the...

  16. Chapter Nine Reset or Overload? The Obama Initiative
    (pp. 211-234)

    When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held her first meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva in March 2009, she handed her Russian counterpart a small gift box. With reporters eagerly looking on, Lavrov unwrapped the gift and found inside a red button emblazoned with the English word “reset” and the Russian wordperegruzka. Lavrov took one look at the button and, with a surprised look on his face, exclaimed, “You got it wrong.”¹ He had been given a button with the Russian word for “overload.” The Russian word for reset wasperezagruzka, notperegruzka. Clinton brushed aside this...

  17. Chapter Ten From Berlin to Damascus: Disagreements Old and New
    (pp. 235-254)

    The Obama administration came into office determined that U.S. relations with Russia’s neighbors not undermine the U.S.-Russian reset. Whereas the Bush administration had elevated Ukraine’s and Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures into a policy priority, the Obama White House took a different tack. It approached the post-Soviet space by taking into account Russian concerns, while insisting that this was no longer a zero-sum game. Developments on the ground also ensured that the post-Soviet space ceased to be a major problem in U.S.-Russian relations, although fundamental differences of interest remained. Bureaucratic obstacles to a coordinated American policy also continued to complicate...

  18. Chapter Eleven The Limits of Partnership
    (pp. 255-274)

    Why has it been so difficult for the United States and Russia to create a productive post–Cold War partnership? With the demise of the USSR and the end of a bipolar world, it appeared that the major obstacles to an improved relationship had disappeared. Russia and the United States no longer faced each other across an ideological divide competing for power and influence in the global arena. There were compelling reasons for Washington to reach out to Moscow and redefine bilateral ties. Yet the initial hopes for a new partnership had all but disappeared by 1999, although they were...

  19. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 275-278)
  20. List of Interviewees
    (pp. 279-282)
  21. Chronology of Major Events in U.S.-Russian Relations
    (pp. 283-292)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 293-320)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 321-326)
  24. Credits for Illustration Section
    (pp. 327-328)
  25. Index
    (pp. 329-355)