What priorities should drive U.S. policy toward Russia?
Fifth edition. July 2018.

U.S. relations with Russia are in a new phase. Russia is claiming a more assertive role in international relations, a role that has led to conflicts with the United States. The Russian government is seeking greater influence and the respect that it believes a country of its size and strength deserves. How the United States should handle this relationship is an open question. Russia’s Transformation: Challenges for U.S. Policy helps students consider this important issue.


The readings prepare students to consider the policy choices toward Russia. Part I offers an historical overview of U.S. relations with the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Part II surveys the economic and political changes that Russia has undergone since the Soviet collapse. Part III concentrates on the leading challenges facing U.S. policymakers with respect to Russia and its neighbors.

Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.


Examining the Principles of U.S. Cold War Policy

Students examine George Kennan's 1947 Foreign Affairs article. Students identify the beliefs that formed the basis of his views and analyze his thesis.

U.S. and Soviet Propaganda

After examining selections from a Soviet textbook and a U.S. comic book, students analyze the impact of propaganda on international politics.

Geography of Russia

Students practice map-reading skills and consider how geography affects international politics.

Photo Analysis: Looking at Russia

Students analyze photographs of present day Russia to learn about Russian life and society. Students consider the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about Russia.

The Options Role Play

Students use three policy options to help clarify their thoughts and, ultimately, articulate their own views. Each option is based on a clearly defined philosophy about the U.S. role in the world and the U.S. relationship to Russia.

Constructing Policy

Armed with historical knowledge and a sense of their own values, students deliberate the policy options presented. They articulate their own coherent recommendations for U.S. policy and apply their policy guidelines to specific issues in U.S.-Russia relations.

Supplemental Resources

Additional reference material for added context and support.


Figes, Orlando. Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (New York: Henry Holt, 2002). 544 pages.

Dawisha, Karen. Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Own’s Russia? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014). 464 pages.

Kissinger, Henry. World Order (New York: Penguin Press, 2014). 432 pages.

Kotkin, Stephen. Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse 1970-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). 245 pages.

Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire (New York: Random House, 1993). 576 pages.

An archive of contemporary domestic, international, and Russian press accounts about current events in Russia.
has articles and information about Russia that is updated frequently.
A bilingual (Russian-English) Library of Congress website that offers a multi-media examination of the exploration and settlement of the Russian-American frontier in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
Information and analysis about Russia and the United States-Russia relationship from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
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