President Donald Trump has reportedly chosen former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman for the position of U.S. ambassador to Russia, a nation to which Trump has been accused of being too accommodating by his opponents.

Trump's administration, currently under investigation for allegedly maintaining secret contacts with Moscow prior to and after last year's election, has taken a different approach to Russia than that of former President Barack Obama and his allies. Obama censured Russia for its involvement in Ukraine and Syria, while bolstering NATO forces along Russia's borders in Europe.

Trump, however, has praised Russia's foreign policy as being adequately tough on terrorism and he has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has reciprocated compliments to Trump. In their first phone call, the two leaders reportedly pledged to restore the relations between U.S. and Russia. In the past nearly two and a half centuries since, however, where did things go wrong?

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Relations between Russia and the modern United States predate the government in Washington. As early as 1763, ships from the Russian Empire traded with the U.K.'s North American colonies, violating British laws that required its global colonies to only trade with the U.K. While Russia officially remained neutral during the American Revolution, Empress Catherine The Great insisted Russia keep trading with the colonies and deny U.K. requests for military assistance. Russia recognized the U.S.' independence in 1776 and diplomatically maintained relations with the Union government during the Civil War between 1861 and 1864. Relations between the two future superpowers remained generally warm throughout their first century.

During World War I, Russia and the U.S. would have found themselves on the same side, fighting against a German-led alliance with Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, however, Russia's government collapsed months before the U.S.' entry into the conflict in 1917 after one of the most decisive events in U.S.-Russian relations. The communist Bolshevik movement took power in Russia. The U.S. and its allies supported opposition forces, which deeply soured relations between Moscow and Washington when the Bolsheviks ultimately won and established the Soviet Union. 

Relations briefly improved when the world was once again entangled in conflict during World War Two. The U.S. and the Soviet Union teamed up against the Axis Powers headed by Nazi Germany. This alliance friendship did not hold, however, and rivalries over the political future of war-torn Europe was split largely split between the West and the Soviet Union in what become the decades-long Cold War. While the U.S. and the Soviet Union never engaged directly, the two nuclear-armed superpowers launched proxy wars across Asia, the Middle East and South America. Moscow's grip over its satellite states in Europe began to wane in the 1980s and the Soviet government eventually fell altogether in 1991.

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The successor state, known as the Russian Federation, was welcomed by Washington and widely seen as an ideological victory for the West. This began to change after the first Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned in 1999. He was succeeded by national security secretary and former KGB spy President Vladimir Putin, who rejected the U.S.' attempts to bolster NATO forces in Europe. Relations between Washington and Moscow remained cold throughout the 21st century and worsened significantly when Russia annexed the former Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014. Moscow's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Syrian army and military buildup in Europe further tested Obama, who ultimately accused the Kremlin of sponsoring a series of hacks that led to the release of sensitive information from emails of the Democratic Party leaders.

Russia's relationship with the US has been more ambiguous since Trump's election. Putin and Trump have appeared to see eye-to-eye on certain issues such as combatting Islamist militants, but accusations launched by Democratic Party members regarding the close relationship between Trump's administration and Moscow may have cooled this alliance. Still, signs of progress in repairing relations have emerged. U.S. and Russian forces cooperated this week for the first time in Syria, once the venue for one of Washington and Moscow's gravest disputes, when both actors moved to protect Kurdish positions from an incoming advance by Turkey and allied Syrian rebels.