For almost twenty years since the Cold War ends, it can be said that any forms of military confrontation between the Russian Federation and the US are practically implausible. Even when tensions rose in Kosovo in the late 90s, disagreement between Moscow and Washington would never lead to a greater level of crisis. However, that belief changed a little before the first decade of the new century even ended. Russia has accused the US of what they thought to be an act to isolate the country. On the other hand, the US has also noticed some of Russia’s unsettling behaviors: interfering with Western elections, military harassment, and posturing in Europe, and intervening with Syria and Ukraine. This has led many to believe that the risk of confrontation is evidently growing despite a US-Russia conflict being still far from inevitable.
Washington and Moscow are different in many ways but chiefly in how the two view the environment of international security. Russia sees that its behaviors are comprehensively defensive in nature. The US, on the other hand, along with NATO, sees a possibility of a revanchist intention in Russia’s part—something that is perceived as an attempt to bring back domination over Central Asia and eastern Europe, a possible cause for a US-Russia conflict.
The Russian government considers the US and NATO as a primary threat that may put its internal security at risk. The US’s sole wish is to stay being the world’s only hegemon, which is why it cannot let Russia sit comfortably within its own sphere of influence. The Russian government views attempt made by both the US and NATO to reintegrate former Soviet republics into organizations such as NATO or EU as a way to pitch them into a corner and this could trigger a full-scale US-Russia conflict if not properly tended to.
Washington, in turn, assesses that Russia plans on establishing a buffer zone of the sort around its boundaries through means that are not tolerable. These means include using force against Ukraine, changing European borders through violence, and undermining Western democratic elections. Both the US and NATO share a similar concern about the military modernization of Russia. Along with intense military exercises and activities, the modernization of Russia’s military forces is a threat to NATO security. Attempts at spoiling possible US-Russia conflict have been made by the US, its allies, and NATO, in the form of open discussion about the central role NATO has in neutralizing attacks from Russia.