The current heating up of the rhetoric in US-Russia relations was triggered in the US by the events in the Ukraine that Cold War warriors in the US say is a sign that Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin are trying to expand the country’s borders and resurrect the Soviet empire, and it shows that they cannot be trusted.
Political scientist John J. Mearsheimer is of the ‘realist’ school of politics in the US that plays down ideological fervor and tries to understand global events in the light of the interests of the nations involved. The members of this school argue that the US should act in its interests coldly and calculatingly and not allow other factors to influence it. He wrote back in 2014 that what happened was the US’s fault and that the Russian takeover of Crimea was a predictable response to the way that the US and NATO had been expanding its front right into the Russian back yard, and what the US did in the Ukraine prior to the takeover was the final straw.
Washington may not like Moscow’s position, but it should understand the logic behind it. This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory. After all, the United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less on its borders. Imagine the outrage in Washington if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico in it.
It is a good article that provides a detailed analysis of the events that led up to the Russian annexation of Crimea. But we have few realists in the US foreign policy political establishment, though they are present among the career professionals. Donald Trump may have warm feelings towards Putin now but he can hardly be called a realist. He can hardly be credited with having any coherent philosophy at all in fact, so he could suddenly turn hostile against Russia overnight.