Washington also needs Russia’s cooperation on Iran. Obama can’t bring United Nations sanctions against a nuclear-determined Tehran without Moscow’s (or China’s) approval on the UN Security Council. Likewise, Russian assistance with supply and transit routes for US forces in Afghanistan strengthens America’s campaign against the Taliban.
The Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008 infuriated the West. The rollback of democracy under Vladimir Putin also put the two nations at odds. Meanwhile, Russia bristled at the rapid eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union into the former Soviet Empire, including a planned US missile-shield aimed at Iran to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.