Ally or adversary? Putin delivering his New Year’s address in Moscow, December 31, 2016
SPUTNIK PHOTO AGENCY / REUTERS

Relations between the United States and Russia are broken, and each side has a vastly different assessment of what went wrong. U.S. officials point to the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea and the bloody covert war Russian forces are waging in eastern Ukraine. They note the Kremlin’s suppression of civil society at home, its reckless brandishing of nuclear weapons, and its military provocations toward U.S. allies and partners in Europe. They highlight Russia’s military intervention in Syria aimed at propping up Bashar al-Assad’s brutal dictatorship. And they call attention to an unprecedented attempt through a Kremlin-backed hacking and disinformation campaign to interfere with the U.S. presidential election last November. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his circle view things differently. In Ukraine, Moscow sees itself as merely pushing back against the relentless geopolitical expansion of the United States, NATO, and the EU. They point

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  • EUGENE B. RUMER is a Senior Fellow in and Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • RICHARD SOKOLSKY is a Senior Fellow in the Carnegie Endowment’s Russia and Eurasia Program.
  • ANDREW S. WEISS is Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment.
  • This article draws from a longer study they undertook for a joint task force of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
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