Russian Factor in Barack Obamas Military-Political Strategy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-6-5-17

N. Bubnova,  Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. Upon becoming president of the United States, Barack Obama formulated the policy of reset in the U.S.-Russia relations – as part of his grand project of improving international relations on a more equitable basis, with a bigger role for diplomacy and international alliances and less reliance on unilateral actions and the use of force. As part of resetting their relationship in the military-political field, the United States and Russia were able, in the first and part of the second tenure of Obama’s presidency, to claim some major achievements in the military-political field, such as signing the New START Treaty, working on further nuclear disarmament measures, and developing bilateral anti-terrorist activities. U.S.-Russia cooperation also resulted in Russia’s agreement to open up its air space and railways for NATO transports which helped the International Coalition to conduct operation in Afghanistan in its “surge” phase and then to successfully withdraw combat units from that country. U.S.-Russia relations were also instrumental in bridging the positions of the two countries with regard to Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear problem, with Russia and China voting alongside with the United States on UN Security Council resolutions for sanctions against North Korea and Iran to make them comply with the nuclear safeguards. Yet in various regions of the world, Obama’s policy – initially announced as an innovative breakthrough strategy proved instead to be reactive, aimed not at future perspective, but at dealing with the emerging crises on a case by case basis: in Lybia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and then finally in Ukraine. The “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific, also announced by Obama’s administration, was formulated without consideration of Russia’s interests in the region, while at the same time causing turbulence in relations with China, and was finally overshadowed by the Ukrainian crisis and then the ISIS offensive in the Middle East. The reset fell prey to the contradictions in U.S.-Russia relations which particularly exacerbated after the events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and led to freezing of arms control negotiations and bilateral U.S.-Russia cooperation in the military-political field. The Ukrainian crisis is likely to have long-term negative consequences, and in particular will increase hawkish tendencies in U.S. politics. Yet this does not preclude and to the contrary increases the importance of seeking ways to strengthen stability, searching for possible measures for nuclear weapons limitations which would become applicable after bilateral relations improve. U.S.-Russia cooperation remains essential for resolving key international challenges as well as major regional problems.

Keywords: Obama, U.S. military strategy, U.S.-Russia relations, European BMD system, Ukrainian crisis, Asian-Pacific pivot, terrorism, nuclear disarmament, strategic arms limitation, Arab Spring

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For citation:
Bubnova N. Russian Factor in Barack Obamas Military-Political Strategy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, no. 6, pp. 5-17.

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