On December 9, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled “Russia-USA: What Are the Limits of Confrontation?”
The acute military-political crisis in Europe has become the practical embodiment of the Russian-American confrontation. The Russian side has repeatedly noted that it is open to dialogue with the Americans; however, the United States not only ignored these statements, but also consolidated its unwillingness to engage in constructive cooperation in national policy documents. Among them is the new National Security Strategy, published in October 2022, which characterises Russia as a source of “acute threats”. Significantly, the US strategy is focused on exerting long-term and comprehensive pressure on Russia in its immediate environment – through the support of Moldova and Georgia, the “strengthening of democratic institutions” in the Western Balkans, the diplomatic resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the strengthening of ties between Turkey and Western countries, as well as the development of interaction with the countries of Central Asia.
However, despite the crisis in bilateral relations, some areas require continued cooperation. These areas include strategic stability and arms reduction. In 2021, the United States and Russia extended the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty) until 2026. The prospects for the development of a new agreement remain unclear: at the end of November 2022, the session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission on the Russian-American START Treaty, scheduled for early December in Cairo, was cancelled. Fundamental disagreements have arisen around the approach to START: Washington insists on inspections, and for Moscow, the readiness of the American side to respect Russian interests and not cross red lines in the field of security is very important.
Does the new US National Security Strategy establish fundamental changes in US policy towards Russia? Is there room for renewed dialogue? What topics can be prioritised? Will negotiations resume on a new arms control treaty? Participants in the discussion addressed these and other questions.