MOSCOW, Dec 17—Successive U.S. administrations have forfeited the chance afforded first by the collapse of Communism and again by 9/11 to integrate Russia into the West. Instead, the United States has either neglected Russia or openly disregarded its overtures and warnings on a range of regional concerns. The incoming U.S. administration needs a comprehensive approach to Russia based on a shared vision of European security, argues a new paper by the deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Dmitri Trenin explains that without agreed-upon rules for the relationship, the United States and Russia could risk stumbling into a major conflict. A European security agenda must be built upon resolving outstanding hotspots, including Kosovo and South Ossetia, rebuilding the damaged arms control and nonproliferation frameworks, and crafting a more cooperative approach to Middle Eastern politics and terrorism.

Key Conclusions:

  • The United States must avoid returning to Cold War-style policies—Georgia is not Germany, and Russia is not the Soviet Union.
  • Tensions between Russia and the United States are converging on Ukraine, important to both Russia and Europe. EU, not NATO, integration is the best way to keep Ukraine free and whole.
  • NATO has reached the safe limits of its eastward expansion. Any further move toward Georgia or Ukraine would be dangerous.
  • Russia should be treated like an equal partner in relation to dealing with the Middle East and Afghanistan.
  • Russia’s domestic policy should be left to Russia. Capitalism will continue to transform the political landscape, but it will take generations, not decades. And a democratic Russia would not equate to a more pro-American or pliable Russia.

Trenin concludes:

“The idea that it may take two cold wars to solve the Russian problem, just as it took two world wars to solve the German one, may fit with America’s experience, but it is misleading and dangerous—not least to the United States. A successful U.S. policy toward Russia must proceed from realities, not past myths or dreams for the future. This will require courage. But the recent developments in the Caucasus and beyond may constitute a moment of truth that could cleanse U.S. thinking on Russia and finally help produce a strategy worth the name.”



  • Dmitri Trenin is deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, where he co-chairs the Foreign and Security Policy Program. He has been with the Center since its inception. He retired from the Russian Army after a military career that included participation in the Geneva strategic arms control negotiations.
  • The Carnegie Moscow Center was established in 1993 and accommodates foreign and Russian researchers collaborating with Carnegie’s global network of scholars on a broad range of contemporary policy issues relevant to Russia—military, political, and economic.
  • The Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Program has, since the end of the Cold War, led the field on Eurasian security, including strategic nuclear weapons and nonproliferation, development, economic and social issues, governance, and the rule of law.