The Perfect Storm: Failures of U.S. Foreign Policy and the Disintegration of U.S.-Russian Relations

Annushka Shivnani, Claremont McKenna College


This paper examines the broader relationship between the United States and Russia since the end of the Cold War. In recent years, relations between the U.S. and Russia have seriously deteriorated. This thesis lists the four most important contributing factors: ineffective reforms of the 1990s, NATO’s continued expansion, escalation in Ukraine, and the failure to jointly address the Syrian conflict. It argues that one major consequence of the strained relationship is a stronger Russia-China partnership. If Washington continues to ignore Russia’s security and economic interests, relations are likely to further decline, harming U.S. objectives in the long term. In order to improve relations, this thesis recommends that the U.S. transform its existing NATO policy, reverse sanctions, and reorient U.S. foreign policy to focus less on Russia’s non-democratic system of government and more on geopolitical issues, such as coordinating measures with Moscow to stabilize Syria.