The United States and Russia: A Complicated Relationship

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The relationship between the United States and Russia has always been curious, they were never really allies, as the USA and Great Britain or France, but they were never enemies before the Cold War; what transpired throughout the history? First, we must understand what was happening during the Second World War, with their communist ideology, the Soviet Union had their concerns with the increasing power of the West or the capitalism. They felt threatened. And the opposing giant of America felt the same way too. They were concerned with the rising of the other political ideology, where it could take a great part of their power in a global scale. This tension grew larger after the nuclear bomb was dropped in Japan. This event may have stopped the war occurring at that time, but also alerted the USSR, who felt it was like a certain type of message; so, what did they do? They developed their own bomb years later. After the treaty created in Germany, they divided Berlin in four parts, USA, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. This created some disagreements on how it should be run, as the biggest powers had different ideologies, so naturally, ended with a clash.

The creation of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) by the West in 1949, was to preserve the capitalism in the majority of the countries, as this organization tried to prevent any possible attacks from the future -whether it was Germany again or the Soviet Union. The counter response from the East, was the creation of the Warsaw Pact. After West Germany joined the NATO in 1955, the Soviet Union believed that they were capable of challenging the capitalism around the world and had the ‘red team’ win. In a certain point, they believed they were ahead in this hypothetically ‘race’ on some areas, as they were the first to put a satellite in the moon, a person in space. At this point, the world was divided in two parts: the capitalist and the communist. Where they pressured or persuade countries to take the plan, Marshall plan from the United States is an example, as they helped the European countries especially in the West to rebuild from the war. But in October in 1962, in Cuba, the Soviets were able to place nuclear weapons in the island, which alarmed USA, so it got to a huge deal eventually in making an agreement for this to come to an end, as neither of them wanted another war. This made a continually tension between them, until the economy of the URSS collapsed as it could not compete with the fast-growing Western industrialization and with the Glasnot and Perestroika with Mijail Gorbachov from 1985-1991, would eventually give the victory to the ‘good guys’, as they prefer to call themselves. There were some agreements after to not had this happened again, marking the end to the bipolar system… or so we thought.

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This was supposed to end there, and in the actuality, we have a more stable relationship within the countries, but in recent times there is more chaos than ever before, we can see that neither Trump or Putin has come to a logical conclusion of this problems. Putin, who was elected Prime Minister in 1999, has changed Russia to an authoritarian regime since having 20 years in power. In the early 2000s, things seemed to be moving in the right direction as Western society expanded into Europe thanks to globalization. So, what went wrong?

There are many factors that could’ve had influenced to this recent breakup so soon after they had just reconciled. One of them is that the United States and the NATO were persuading Eastern Europe, according to Traill (2017), “Russian leaders and journalists continually remind TV audiences of US Secretary of State James Baker's alleged 'broken promise' to Gorbachev in 1990 not to expand NATO 'an inch' eastwards”. If it’s accurate, this could bring a light into what has Putin feel since being in the KGB (Committee of State Security) which they taught to hate the Americans, however, that betrayal could be the first part of the situation right now. Other interesting theory is that maybe, the Soviet Union never actually died. To be clearer, I am not saying that the communism will rise up and defeat the capitalism, however, according to Jackson (2018), “the Soviet Union was not defeated by a political idea”. This says that the Soviet Union collapsed by the economical factor, not the political. Jackson points out that the authoritarian government has some similarities comparing to the old Russia government, some of them are: their military remains intact, their isolation from the West and Europe, which was the biggest characteristic from the old Soviet Union. The other factor is the cause of the current situation of the West, we are living in chaos, especially in recent times as Jackson says (2018), “we live in chaotic and highly volatile political times. And to judge from these baseless beliefs and gross misperceptions, we live in the age of idiots”. There has been more fragmentation or breaking of states in recent times, resulting in nasty politics and many trade wars across the globe (USA vs China). Nationalism has also gotten a rise in recent years, the case, as you may know it, Make America Great Again. This has given the West a bit of a weakness in recent years, were before they were known as being ‘invincible’.

In a recent problem with Crimea that involved Russia, was that, Crimea is a part of the Ukraine, the East to be more exact, and part of Crimea they felt identified as Russians. Crimea voted and they were a part of Russian, whether they were legal or not, the US applied sanctions to the Russian government, where they continue to do in order to avoid an unnecessary war. However, this hasn’t made Russia happy, they have a hatred there in Moscow for the Western man. Recently they have blamed the Russians from interfering in the presidential elections, where Donald Trump was elected president. However obviously Putin refused any allegations that they were in any way involved.

We can see that after all the history in the last 90 years, saying that they have a complicated relationship is selling it short, way short. Not only they have had different ideas, but they were a button away of what could had become the Third World War with the arms race. It is amazing that the both nations act like they are very different, but actually, they are similar in some aspects of economical, especially after Trump rose to power. The truth is that they have a very toxic relation, where someone does something, the opposing country goes the other way. They really get involved in situations where they do not belong, but in this world, and the current state of the world, whatever the outcome is will affect the whole world, leading to the possibility of a Second Cold War.


  1. Jackson, B. (2018, December 7). U.S.-Russian Relations, 1989-2019: Self-Awareness and History. Retrieved October 26, 2019, from
  2. Traill, K. (2017, December 20). Why Russia and the West Can't Get Along. Retrieved October 26, 2019, from
  3. Porter, K. (2019, July 26). U.S. and Russian Relations from 1922 Until Today. Retrieved October 26, 2019, from
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The United States and Russia: A Complicated Relationship. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“The United States and Russia: A Complicated Relationship.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
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