Russia has come to occupy an anomalous position in Western strategic thought. While former US president Barack Obama dismissed Russia as a “regional power” following its 2014 occupation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine, both the Trump and Biden administrations have identified Russia as one of the United States’ principal rivals in an era defined by strategic competition among great powers. To a significant degree, though, the United States continues to think about Russia as more of a disruptor than a true great power rival. Though widespread, that view misreads both the nature and the durability of Russian power and underestimates the extent to which Russia remains a potent competitor whose preferences Western leaders will have to take into account.
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Jeffrey Mankoff is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University. The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.