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Russia’s Eastern Flank

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Some thoughts at the Diplomat on Russia’s future approach to the Asia-Pacific:

The post-Cold War relationship between the United States and Russia may now be permanently broken. Although Russia has acquired Crimea, it appears to have lost the rest of Ukraine, perhaps permanently, as well as any sense that the United States will exercise forbearance in the former Soviet space. Moscow wants, more than anything else, the freedom to exercise power in its near abroad, and repeated incidents over the past 20 years have indicated that Washington will not, and perhaps cannot, grant this.

It has been quite some time since Russia would go out of its way to hurt the interests of the United States, but following frustration in Ukraine, Moscow may indeed move towards a policy of open hostility towards the U.S. leadership.

Even with all of the frustrations (on both sides) of U.S.-Russian relations since 1990, most of the players have appreciated the potential of transactional, arms length interactions. The United States and Russia have collaborated effectively on non-proliferation, the containment of Iran and North Korea, counter-terrorism, and the stabilization of Central Asia. But if the deterioration of relations leads to a zero-sum interpretation of Moscow-Washington affairs, all of these transactional interactions could be endangered.

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