Russia represents one of the most vexing geopolitical challenges facing the West today. In the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its unprecedented meddling in the US presidential election, relations between Moscow and the West have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

As the Trump administration begins to shape its national security strategy, how to deal with Russia will be a high priority. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Russia during the campaign, and his stated desire to “get along” with Vladimir Putin, suggest a new Russian “reset” may be in the offing. At the same time, senior administration officials have reiterated the importance of holding Russia to account for its actions in Ukraine and Syria.

The United States and its allies must be clear about the nature of the challenge posed by Russia, and put in place a coordinated and sustainable strategy to address this challenge, while advancing Western interests and values. Russian cooperation on certain issues — such as the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham — may be worth exploring. However, any approach to engage Russia must be grounded within the context of a broader strategy that recognizes and pushes back against Moscow’s efforts to undermine the rules-based international order.

This report, prepared in collaboration with experts from a network of think tanks participating in the D-10 Strategy Forum, proposes an active and sustainable strategy to constrain Russia’s ability to challenge the security of the United States and the wider West, and the legitimacy of the rules-based democratic order, while preserving channels of cooperation on issues of mutual interest.


  • Ash Jain is a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and co-director of the D-10 Strategy Forum.

  • Camille Grand was the director of the Paris-based policy think tank Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique from 2008 to 2016.

  • Damon Wilson is executive vice president for Programs & Strategy at the Atlantic Council. His work is committed to advancing a Europe that is whole, free and at peace to include Europe’s East, the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region; to strengthening the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance; and to fostering a transatlantic partnership capable of tackling global challenges and promoting its common values.

  • Go Myong-Hyun is a research fellow in the Risk, Information & Social Policy Program at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in South Korea.

  • James Nixey is head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House in London.

  • Michal Makocki is a former senior visiting academic fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.

  • Nathalie Tocci is deputy director of Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome, editor of The International Spectator, and special adviser to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, in charge of outreach to think tanks and coordination of work on a new European Security Strategy.