Unlike the former cold war, Russian officials argue, today's growing rift between Moscow and the West is not based on irreconcilable ideological or geopolitical hostility. The main problem, they say, stems from the West's failure to work with Russia to re-imagine global security architecture following the USSR's collapse. Confidantes of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev say that US leaders reneged on pledges to build a "new world order" after Soviet troops withdrew from Eastern Europe and the Communist military alliance – the Warsaw Pact – was disbanded.
"Gorbachev made deep concessions to the West in order to break out of the vicious cycle of the arms race. But later, when Russia was going through a painful economic transition and we needed support, the West turned away," says Andrei Grachev, who was a Kremlin adviser and Gorbachev's presidential spokesman at the time. "Despite promises that had been given to us, the West decided to use [Russia's weakness and economic turmoil] in order to expand NATO to the east. I believe that the anti-Western moods present in Russian society today can be explained by the fact that the West treated Russia as a vanquished enemy," rather than a potential partner, he says.