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Monday, May 30, 2016

Managing Risks in the Russia-United States Conflict

Managing Risks in the Russia-United States Conflict

Unlike in the Cold War, the current Russia-United States confrontation is asymmetrical, which carries different dangers. Cooperation will remain limited and Barack Obama’s successor will most likely take a harsher stance on Russia. The good news about the two-year-old confrontation between Russia and the United States is that over the past year it has stabilized and become the “new normal.” The bad news is that this clash looks set to last, and is developing into a military-political conflict in Eastern Europe and a new arms race.
The new standoff is, unlike the Cold War, distinctly asymmetrical. This time around, the scales are clearly tipped in favor of the United States. That has caused Russia to overcompensate by raising the stakes, taking bigger risks, and making sudden moves that wrong-foot its adversary.
Yet this asymmetry, coupled with a sense of moral superiority, also leads the United States to underestimate Russia and view it as a state in progressive decline, interpret the Kremlin’s actions as a bluff, and keep ratcheting up the pressure. An encounter between a Russian and a U.S. airplane or between an airplane and a military ship in the Baltic or Black Sea region could result in the confrontation escalating to a new and much more dangerous level.

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