In This Review

The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-first Century
The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-first Century
By Angela Stent
Princeton University Press, 2014, 384 pp.

Until now, there have been no broad-based studies of the vexed contemporary U.S.-Russian relationship in English -- or, for that matter, in Russian. This volume fills that void admirably. It moves rapidly and succinctly over four U.S. presidential administrations, from that of George H. W. Bush to that of Barack Obama, attempting to understand why the “resets” with Russia undertaken by all four began with high expectations but ended each time with disappointment. Stent’s analysis proceeds chronologically, lingering longest over the issues that most roiled the relationship, such as the Iraq war, the 2008 Georgian-Russian war, missile defense, and, more recently, the civil war in Syria. The heart of the problem, Stent argues, is the asymmetry in the two countries’ economic power and military strength and the distance between their views of international realities. The relationship is also stymied by the inability of both sides to shake the legacy of the Cold War. Notwithstanding the genuinely important reasons Moscow and Washington have to cooperate, Stent contends that the relationship will remain a limited and troubled partnership as long as these obstacles are left in place.