U.S.-Russia Relations: Trust and Decision Making in the Twenty-First Century

Relations between the United States and Russia are in a period of heightened tension, making it all the more significant for students of history, current events, and international relations to understand the dynamic between these two world powers. This set of video resources uses the lens of trust and trustbuilding to examine the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship in the post–Cold War era. The videos feature members of the Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations, a group of experts from leading Russian and American institutions coordinated by Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the National Research University—Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia.

When engaging with these resources, students will be prompted to consider the following questions and dilemmas:

  • How can trust be defined in the context of post–Cold War U.S.-Russia relations?
  • Is trust necessary for cooperation to occur between nations?
  • Is trust possible in current contexts between these nations?
    • If so, how might trust be built or rebuilt in future U.S.-Russia relations?
    • What conditions make trust possible?

Each video includes perspectives from American and Russian experts. In the accompanying viewing guides, students are asked to 1) restate the positions they hear and voice their own reactions; 2) reflect on the underlying values and circumstances that inform these positions; and 3) reflect on possibilities for reconciliation between these positions.

The relationship between trust, cooperation, risk, and power is central to questions about U.S.-Russia relations past, present, and future. To prompt student thinking about strategic decision making, this sequence also includes a a game theory activity in which mathematician Benjamin Allen encourages further reflection on the relationship between trust and cooperation.

For a print version of this module, please download the PDF version of U.S.-Russia Relations.

This resource was developed with the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.