The Trump administration has spurred a debate in the United States on how to best manage the complex bilateral relationship with Russia. Paul Haenle sat down with Carnegie scholars Andrew Weiss, Paul Stronski, and Alexander Gabuev on the sidelines of the Carnegie Global Dialogue Series to discuss the implications that changes made in the Trump administration’s policies toward Russia and China may have on China-Russia relations.
Weiss, Stronski, and Gabuev said that despite President Trump’s interest in improving relations with Russia, Washington and Moscow have fundamentally different understandings and approaches to resolving key issues in the relationship, including the civil war in Syria. Weiss argued that given the risks and flashpoints in the relationship, the challenge for leaders and policymakers is establishing how to build an effective framework to manage the relationship in a constructive way. Stronski discussed the history of past U.S. presidential overtures to Russia, which have unraveled once low-hanging areas of cooperation were exhausted. Finally, Gabuev argued that China and Russia are aligned on issues such as global governance and Internet sovereignty, making it highly unlikely that U.S.-Russia relations would strengthen more than China-Russia relations over the coming years. While the scholars said a rapprochement in U.S.-Russia relations would be positive for global stability, they agreed that the prospect remains unlikely.