With the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's relationship with Russia and other post-communist countries has fallen into some disarray. For more than 40 years, the primary objective of U.S. foreign policy was the containment of the Soviet communist threat. With the abrupt end of that objective in 1991, the United States has found itself in the dark about how to relate with the successor states of the Soviet Union, including Russia, and what objectives to pursue in advancing American interests.
This research examines the traditional and new relationships the United States has forged with Russia, particularly since the end of the Cold War in 1991. Some attention will be given to the traditional Cold War relationship between the United States and Russia, but this study will emphasize the evolving relationship between the two countries in the last few years.
The Soviet Union officially collapsed in a virtually bloodless end on Christmas Day in 1991 as a result of an agreement reached by the troika of Slavic leaders: Leonid Kravchuk of the Ukraine; Stanislav Shushkevich of Belarus; and Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation. Surprisingly, the troika leadership acted quite independently of their respective legislatures and popular sentiment. A national referendum conducted about a year earlier at Gorbachev's bequest indicated that 80% of the public supported preservation of the Soviet Union, albeit in federalist form. The agreement, which established the Commonwealth of Independent States, left Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev without a country and thrust Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia, into the forefront of American foreign relations with the nations of the former Soviet Union.
The sudden transition in Soviet politics was unpredicted by American analysts. The CIA among almost all other American Sovietologists were completely unprepared for the fall of the U.S.S.R. As a result, American foreign relations with the regi...