Since the Iron Curtain came crashing down, American and Russian diplomats have been searching for a special relationship between their countries to replace Cold War animosity.
Security matters have not yielded much. On issues such as the expansion of NATO, stabilising Yugoslavia and the war in Chechnya, the two have sought each other's tolerance more than co-operation. Nor have the two nations developed much economic interaction, as a result of Russia's weak institutions and faltering economy. Thus, by default, "energy" has become the new special topic in Russian-American relations.