Challenges to US influence: Russia

Russian troops on parade, Moscow, 2018
Russian troops on parade, Moscow, 2018

The re-emergence of Russia as a military power and its annexation of Crimea has radically changed the US-Russian relationship.

  • after years of increased co-operation, e.g. through the NATO-Russia Council and with Russian membership of the G8 Group, the US was of the view that Russia was no longer the threat to European peace and security it once was
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in supporting the anti-government rebels in Ukraine have resulted in extensive US and European economic sanctions being imposed on Russia
  • the US has become frustrated with Russia over Syria
  • the on-going civil war in Syria has led to the loss of thousands of lives while hundreds of thousands have been displaced
  • Russia's steadfast support for the Syrian government by means of its UN Security Council veto has meant the US has been unable to gain UN approval for action

Russian election interference

The 2016 Presidential election was dogged by claims that the Russian state had covertly manipulated the campaign in order to achieve a win for Donald Trump – a candidate who was seen to be more favourable to Russia.

In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a report stating that they believed that Russian secret services hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hilary Clinton’s campaign manager in an attempt to destabilise their campaign and provide an advantage to their adversaries.

The FBI conducted an investigation into alleged links and financial ties between the Russian state and Donald Trump's associates. On 13 February 2018, the heads of the US intelligence agencies restated their belief in Russian interference.

Alongside, these suspicions of hacking, there were claims that thousands of fake social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter attempted to sway public opinion against Clinton and for Trump. In October 2017, Facebook admitted that as many as 126 million Americans may have been exposed to social media influence from Russian-based operatives.