March 30, 2017

Silver Lining in the Clouds? Prospects for Trump-Putin Cooperation in the Middle East

Traditional Russian wooden dolls depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald J. Trump are displayed for sale at a souvenir shop in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jan. 20. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The overall improvement in U.S.-Russian relations that the new Trump administration envisioned has not materialized as Washington and Moscow continue to disagree on a number of important issues such as sanctions, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and NATO. The United States and Russia, though, do have several common interests in the Middle East. Both oppose the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and both have good relations with most Middle Eastern governments. Still, differing Russian and U.S. attitudes toward Iran, in particular, will serve to limit – but not eliminate – the degree to which they can cooperate in the region.