This paper argues that Russian-Western mistrust persists due to historical and cultural developments with roots in the ColdWar. The post-ColdWar imbalance of power served to exacerbate the problem. The United States emerged as the world’s superpower acting on perceived fears of Russia, whereas Russia’s undermined capabilities dictated a defensive, rather than a hegemonic response. The paper analyzes the decision to expand NATO by excluding Russia from the process. It also asks why the process suddenly stopped in 2008. What changed the West’s mind about the expansion was not a revised perception of Russia, but rather concern with its growing power and assertiveness as revealed by the Kremlin’s use of force during the Caucasus’ war.

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