The (Un)Likely Wedge: Is Selectively Accommodating Russia Still Possible Following Ukraine

Mihajlo Kopanja ORCID logo

Published on 15 March 2024

ABSTRACT: There is an agreement that global relations in the coming years will be shaped by Sino-American rivalry. While the U.S. are still individually the most preponderant power, the prospect of greater Sino-Russian partnership threatens to undermine U.S. position in global politics. With that in mind, it becomes evident why the U.S. should focus their efforts on wedging the Sino-Russian partnership. The best way to do so is to strive to selectively accommodate Russia in order to distance it from China. While theoretically possible, implementation of selective accommodation wedge strategy in the U.S.-China-Russia strategic triad might have hit a possible dead end once the war in Ukraine started. Thus, the main research question this paper strives to answer is whether selectively accommodating Russia, in order to wedge the Sino-Russian partnership, still is possible following Ukraine? Paper is structured so it firstly provides a theoretical overview of wedge strategy. Then, it presents different ways the U.S. could selectively accommodate Russia. Finally, it highlights the weight of U.S. commitment to their European allies as the key factor for the (un)likeliness of wedge strategy. The main conclusion is that implementation of wedge strategy is unlikely due to the fact that the U.S. face high alliance constraints from European countries that see Russia, and not China as the main threat.

KEY WORDS: United States, China, Russia, Europe, Ukraine, wedge strategy, selective accommodation.