By Annie Lewandowski
After entering office at the beginning of 2017, Donald Trump’s raucous term had been marked to be the start of a new era of vastly improved relations between the US and our never-quite-thawed counterpart of Russia. The initial chumminess between the two leaders – along with more than a few allegations of election-rigging from Russian hackers – boded well for a relationship that was before taut with the tensions of ideological opposition and general mistrust. However, despite generally positive outlooks for US-Russia relations, recent events have turned communications frosty between the two historical ‘superpowers’. According to the New York Times, Putin’s administration, initially hopeful, has been disappointed in Trump’s lack of initiative in moving diplomacy forwards between the two nations, and if Putin ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy, especially considering his country is home of one of the most formidable collections of weapons of mass destruction in the world.
America has had a rocky history with Russia to say the least, but considering the political and geographical strength of both of the nations, it is in each’s best interest to keep relations amicable and non-hostile. While diplomacy, treaties, and trade agreements are all well and good, the United States Department of State has begun to engage young people to interact with the Russian population, live in the country, understand the culture and the history, and develop positive connections between Americans and Russians. I myself participated in the State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth three summers ago and came away with a love for Russia and an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately, programs such as this require willing participation from both host country and visiting country, and as of late the participation of the former has become less and less certain, and parents’ reservations about sending their children to a possibly hostile country are mounting. It is impossible to say in which direction relations will go in the next decade, but hopefully civilian interactions and bonding between the two countries will not suffer for long because those kinds of relationships are some of the most valuable one can possess.