Research Paper No. 109 - 2020



During Donald Trump’s presidency, US-Russia relations significantly worsened. On top of the tensions over the Ukrainian and Syrian crises, new ones have emerged in other areas, from arms control to geopolitical power politics in the “Greater Middle East”. Through an analysis of the main drivers of the relations between the US and Russia over the past four years, this paper explores how the US domestic polarization over how to deal with Russia resulted in ineffective sanctions, weakened cooperation on arms control, and ultimately allowed Russia to gain geopolitical room in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and to continue strengthening its ties with China. The first part of this paper retraces the evolution and polarization of the debate on Russia in the United States, while the second discusses how such trends have resulted in sanctions being the main US foreign policy tool towards Russia. After providing an overview of the impact of the standoff with Russia on arms control, this study shows how the US intervention fatigue has given Russia greater room for actions in the MENA region, but also how deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington ultimately facilitated more solid relations between Moscow and Beijing. Lastly, this paper discusses the main challenges ahead in the bilateral relation in light of Joseph Biden’s recent election as president of the United States.


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Chercheur(s) associés à cette actualité

Giovanna DE MAIO

Visiting Fellow at George Washington University, Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution

Emmanuel DREYFUS

Research Fellow at IRSEM