Relations between Russia and the U.S. have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. In Europe, a new round of anti-Russian sanctions recently signed by US president Donald Trump is reinvigorating US allies in Russia’s neighborhood in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. US Vice President Mike Pence’s recent tour of Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro further solidified the feeling that there is little space for Moscow and Washington to compromise in former Soviet territories.
Yet this does not preclude the U.S. and Russia cooperating in some areas around the world. For instance, in Syria, Moscow and Washington share the common vision of defeating Islamic State (ISIS). In Afghanistan, Moscow, like Washington, aims to limit instability and prevent it from spilling over into Central Asia. Tensions on the Korean peninsula could also serve as another area of cooperation, where both Moscow and Washington oppose Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
That said, any cooperation in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East is very unlikely to spread to the former Soviet space, which will remain a primary theater of interaction between Russia and the U.S. Cooperation in Afghanistan, N. Korea, or Syria would not diminish geopolitical disagreements over the NATO buildup in and around Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Georgia, making it unlikely that relations between the two powers will improve in the near future.