from Europe Program and U.S. Foreign Policy Program

Getting Russia Right

Thomas Graham offers a practical vision of U.S.-Russia relations.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Vladimir Putin

U.S. Foreign Policy

As U.S.-Russian relations scrape the depths of Cold War antagonism, the promise of partnership that beguiled American administrations during the first post-Soviet decades increasingly appears to have been false from the start. Why did American leaders persist in pursuing it? Was there another path that would have produced more constructive relations or better prepared Washington to face the challenge Russia poses today?    With a practitioner’s eye honed during decades of work on Russian affairs, Thomas Graham deftly traces the evolution of opposing ideas of national purpose that created an inherent tension in relations. Getting Russia Right identifies the blind spots that prevented Washington from seeing Russia as it really is and crafting a policy to advance American interests without provoking an aggressive Russian response. Distilling the Putin factor to reveal the contours of the Russia challenge facing the United States whenever he departs the scene, Graham lays out a compelling way to deal with it so that the United States can continue to advance its interests in a rapidly changing world.

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Vladimir Putin

U.S. Foreign Policy

Reviews and Endorsements

Getting Russia Right is a much-needed contribution to a saner conversation about U.S. policy toward Russia. Graham explains how and why relations with Russia fell apart and why repairing them remains a vital task. One hopes the Biden administration will pay close attention to this wise and balanced assessment.

Stephen Walt, Harvard University

An explanation of what went wrong in U.S.-Russian relations and an indictment of U.S. post–Cold War Russia policy, which was done in by a mixture of hubris and impatience. Dealing with Russia is time-consuming and taxing, Graham argues, but ignoring it comes with its own price. This will also be true after the Ukraine war is over.

O.A. Westad, Yale University and author of The Cold War: A World History

Tom Graham has distilled a lifetime of experience, study, and reflection into this analysis of how Russia-U.S. relations reached this current dark state—and how we can emerge in a better place. It should command close attention in any debate on how to manage relations with Russia when its horrific war with Ukraine eventually ends.

John McLaughlin, Johns Hopkins University

Getting Russia Right is a timely and provocative look back at U.S. policy toward Russia after the Cold War. Tom Graham, one of America’s most respected Russian experts, pinpoints the strategic differences between the U.S. and Russia which led us to today. This is essential reading for those who aspire to get Russia (and China) policy right.

Dan Russell, U.S.-Russia Business Council

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