U.S.-Russia conflict topic of third Seminars talk

Teresa Ristow
U.S. relations expert Matthew Rojansky speaks Thursday during a Seminars at Steamboat talk.
Teresa Ristow

— The tense relationship between the United States and Russia and why it should matter for Americans was the topic of a complex Seminars at Steamboat discussion Thursday at Strings Music Pavilion.

Matthew Rojansky, an expert on U.S. relations with states of the former Soviet Union, reminded audience members early in his talk of one important reason to take the conflict between the two countries seriously.

“Russia is the only country on the planet that can destroy the United States in under an hour. I mean, all of the United States,” said Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Rojansky said that, though Russia may have less power than it once did, the country acts as though it is a great power, and Russia’s influence on neighboring countries amounts to an impact in much of the world.

“Russia’s region is essentially half the globe,” he said.

Rojansky said the United States and Russia are engaged in a power struggle related to how the world should be run, defined by an intense distrust between leaders and a difference of opinion about what should happen in other countries.

“The leaders of the West and the leaders of Russia are in agreement that the current conflict is a conflict of world order,” he said.

Rojansky said the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is as bad as it has been since the Cold War.

“Things have been bad before, so you might dispute the claim that this is the worst it’s been,” he said. “This is, indeed, the most serious conflict we have been in.”

Rojansky said, ideally, the two countries will work toward compromises, not additional confrontations.

He encouraged Americans to learn about or visit Russia and use the knowledge to influence U.S. political leaders to discuss the hard issues between the two nations.

“The more Americans understand Russia, the more we can make wise choices,” Rojansky said.

Thursday’s seminar will be broadcast on KUNC radio at 9 p.m. August 22, and a video recording of the discussion will be uploaded to in the coming weeks.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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