On another issue, Russia has opposed proposals in the U.N. to give independence to the Serbian province of Kosovo. U.S. officials have indicated support for Kosovo's separation, but Russia has backed Serbia, a move that some analysts fear could encourage Belgrade to take military action if Kosovo declares independence next month, as expected.
Russian officials have hinted that if the United States publicly supports an independent Kosovo, they would respond by declaring support for the independence of the breakaway province of Abkhazia, against the U.S.-allied Georgia. Such a move could lead to a military confrontation between Georgia and Abkhazia, where Russian peacekeeping troops are based.
Elsewhere, the Russian government has threatened retaliatory steps against Poland and the Czech Republic if they take part in the U.S. missile defense project in Eastern Europe. In the face of that pressure, the new Polish government is reconsidering its commitment.
Russia last year "suspended" its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a Cold War-era pact aimed at limiting the deployment of conventional forces near the border regions. The move threw into doubt whether Moscow would stand by other arms control pacts.
Only this month, Russia appointed as envoy to NATO a nationalist gadfly, Dmitri Rogozin, who believes the Western coalition no longer has any legitimate purpose. The move was seen as a signal that Russia intends to oppose further North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion, which Moscow views as a threat.
Russian analysts acknowledge that the Putin government is trying to exploit anti-Americanism for political purposes.
"It's very popular and relatively easy to use anti-Western and anti-American feelings as a declared political position," said Alexander Konovalov, president of Moscow's Institute for Strategic Assessment. "But if the public were not oriented to anti-Americanism, Putin would never have made a speech like the one he made in Germany."
Russian analysts argue that the United States bears as much or more responsibility for strained relations. The two countries have often clashed because of flawed foreign policy on the part of the United States, they say.
On Kosovo, for example, there is a widespread belief among Russians that America is underestimating how much the province's independence would destabilize Europe. Many Russians also fear that the United States' hard-line approach to Iran is counterproductive.
Moreover, Russia is deeply sensitive to U.S. involvement in former Soviet states such as Georgia, not to mention the missile defense plan. Analysts and officials talk about the sense, long felt by Russians, that they are being encroached upon by onetime adversaries.
"If Russia did the same thing in countries that border on the U.S.," said Delyagin, the chairman of Moscow's Institute of Globalization Studies, "I think the U.S. would go as far as declaring war on us."
McFaul, of Stanford, said Russia, unlike its Soviet predecessor, does not have the ability to prevent the United States from reaching national security objectives in many areas. For the most part, it can be a "spoiler," simply making goals much tougher to reach, he said.
But in a few cases, it has been able to override U.S. plans. In 2005, Russia successfully pressured the Uzbek government to close down a U.S. air base that was being used to supply the effort in Afghanistan. The U.S. had a "hard-core strategic interest in that base, and now we don't have it," McFaul said.
Conservatives within the Bush administration have periodically pushed for a harder line on Russia. In 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a speech in Vilnius, Lithuania, that accused Russia of backsliding on democracy and using its energy supply to gain unfair leverage over neighboring countries.
The speech was intended to draw a line not only for the Russians but also for Cheney's more moderate rivals within the administration, said McFaul. Yet, there was never an overhaul of the administration's Russia policy, he said.
The Bush administration "could be much more confrontational, but they've gone out of their way to tone down the rhetoric," said Charles A. Kupchan, director of Europe studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former National Security Council aide in the Clinton administration.
Even so, administration officials said they would continue speaking out on some issues, such as human rights and democracy in Russia, even at the cost of further fracturing the relationship. They also would be sensitive to any move by Moscow to exercise more influence over countries on its border, including Georgia and Ukraine.
The senior administration official said the Russians want what "they would call a relationship on more equal terms, and what I would say are requirements for the United States to accept a Russian sphere of influence over countries which are sovereign. And we're not going to do it."
If Moscow begins to feel it has lost its chance to fully integrate with the West, he said, "it's been their responsibility, not ours."
Times staff writer Megan Stack in Moscow contributed to this report.