Even under a new US administration, US-Russian relations are chilly at best. US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin came away from their eagerly anticipated June summit having agreed on little more than the notion that nuclear war should never be fought. As diplomatic negotiations go, agreeing that nuclear Armageddon should be avoided is a modest accomplishment.
Since then, there has not been much room for optimism: in August, Russia moved forward with plans to ban foreign nationals from staffing the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia, cutting mission personnel from upward of 2200 people to around 120 people. Meanwhile, Russian actors appear undeterred in their efforts to wage damaging hacking campaigns against a broad range of US targets, despite Biden’s demands in June that Putin rein in these ransomware attacks.
But amid many otherwise dim diplomatic prospects, one hope for warmer ties and improved strategic stability may come from a most unexpected source: the woolly mammoth.