It was just about five years ago when President George W. Bush said he looked into the "soul" of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and pronounced that that their meeting was "the beginning of a very constructive relationship." Now, amid sharp geopolitical maneuvering in the Caucasus and Central Asia, the United States and Russia seem to be girding for Cold War II. Unlike the epic conflict during the last half of the 20th century, Washington is poorly positioned to defeat Russia in a new superpower standoff.
Talk of a revived Cold War followed US Vice President Dick Cheney's blistering attack on Russia in a May 4 speech in Vilnius, Lithuania. Cheney criticized the Kremlin for carrying out a drastic rollback of political rights, as well as using its energy infrastructure as "tools of intimidation or blackmail."
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Justin Burke is EurasiaNets editor.