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Managing the New Cold War

What Moscow and Washington Can Learn From the Last One

Red flag: Russian soldiers in Moscow’s Red Square, November 2011. Denis Sinyakov / Courtesy Reuters

No one should casually label the current confrontation between Russia and the West a “new Cold War.” After all, the current crisis hardly matches the depth and scale of the contest that dominated the international system in the second half of the twentieth century. And accepting the premise that Russia and the West are locked in such a conflict could lead policymakers to pursue the wrong, even dangerous strategies. Using such a label is thus a serious matter.

Yet it is important to call things by their names, and the collapse in relations between Russia and the West does indeed deserve to be called a new Cold War. The hard reality is that whatever the outcome of the crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe won’t return to business as usual, as they did after the 2008 Russian-Georgian war.

The Obama administration enjoyed some success

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