Why Moscow Says No

A Question of Russian Interests, Not Psychology

Courtesy Reuters

Russia's international behavior during the last decade has puzzled many U.S. observers. As seen from Washington, the greatest challenges of the moment -- terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change -- are global ones that threaten all states. The United States has been trying to organize multilateral responses. Yet the Kremlin has proved singularly unhelpful. For years, Russian negotiators have stalled efforts to compel Iran and North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons programs. Meanwhile, Moscow has applied economic and diplomatic pressure to keep nearby states from joining NATO or letting U.S. troops use their bases to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. And in August 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and effectively detached two mountain enclaves from its territory.

More recently, some have seen hints of a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations. Last June, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev chatted over hamburgers in Washington and

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