During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the center of U.S. foreign policy and comprehensive strategy. Today’s Russia is not important enough to merit that role.
But Russia is important, hostile, and active enough to take seriously.
Comprehensive strategy is commonly held to be a serious and ongoing effort to relate the means and ends of national policy and—within the limits of the U.S. system—to mobilize all national assets to achieve those ends. Yet it also requires something more fundamental: a sense of where you are.This report addresses all four problems in turn after setting out the comprehensive strategy on which the U.S. should base its response...
U.S. comprehensive strategy toward Russia must be part of an even larger strategy and cannot be an end in itself because—unlike during the Cold War—Russia is not the U.S.’s primary opponent, even though Russia has defined itself as a geopolitical adversary to the U.S. But precisely because part of Russia’s strategy relies on returning to the Soviet approach of playing the spoiler, Russia is irresponsibly involved in many of the world’s problems, hot spots, and crises.
Within the overarching need for a U.S. comprehensive strategy, Russia poses four distinct, but related problems for U.S. policy:
First, Putin’s Russia is a regime that combines a lack of respect for political, civil, and economic rights with a dysfunctional economy.
Second and most dangerous for the United States, Russia poses a series of worldwide strategic and diplomatic challenges, including buildup of its nuclear arsenal and military.
Third, Russia poses threats to discrete U.S. friends, allies, and interests around the world.
Fourth, Russia’s cooperation with bad actors and its increasing tendency to play a spoiler role pose another set of threats.