The Russian economy is growing, but it is still underdeveloped compared with those of the European Union, China and the US. Up until a few years ago, the Kremlin sought to substantiate its geopolitical ambitions with its massive oil and gas exports. Since then, though, Moscow has been forced to recognize that it is just as reliant on revenues from those exports as Europe is on the deliveries. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow's global influence has eroded massively. Indeed, its only remaining claims to major power status are its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and its nuclear arsenal.
It will be difficult for the White House to get the Russians on board. The concessions the Kremlin would likely demand could be so extensive that Washington simply couldn't accept them. One idea circulating would be for the US to abandon entirely the missile defense system it wants to deploy against Iran but which Russia perceives as a threat.
The Russians could also demand that Washington repeal the so-called Magnitsky Act. The legislation, which Obama signed into law last December, prohibits Russian government officials believed to be connected to human rights violations from entering the US or using its banking system.
For the proposed cooperation to go forward, it appears a miracle would be needed, or at the very least, a negotiating partner on the Russian side who would push aside power ambitions for a moment and accept a vision of a world without nuclear bombs.
By Guylain Gustave Moke
World Affairs Analyst