Despite the ongoing conflict with Russia, Americans are not locked in a new Cold War. By most measures, the United States is far more powerful than Russia. Nonetheless, the two countries are engaged in a complex strategic competition, largely driven by economic rivalry and differences over the future of the world order.
In the aftermath of Putin’s annexation of Crimea, majorities of Americans support Ukraine and NATO. But few have positive opinions of Russia or confidence in its leader, Vladimir Putin. More than half of Americans see Russia as an enemy, and 64% view it as a threat to the U.S.
Even so, the US has no immediate plans to place its nuclear deterrent forces on higher alert. This is a wise policy, which allows the US to focus on developing a more prosperous economic model and cultivating a network of alliances around the world that counter Putin’s efforts to weaken global governance.
However, it is important for European leaders to communicate the risks of Europe’s increasing interdependence with China in the event of a clash between the United States and Russia. A US-China confrontation would have a massive impact on Europe’s trade and economy, at the very least, and many European countries would not be neutral bystanders. A growing number of Europeans have a negative view of China and many of them would like to see the United States as their ally in a potential conflict with Beijing.