Kudos to Obama for dropping plans to put missiles in Eastern Europe. Now our relations with Russia are improving. Better relations with Russia are more important, strategically, than the shield that those missiles would have provided. That shield of protection against rough missiles from Iran and other places can still be provided from ships at sea.
Meanwhile, better relations with Russia means the biggest country in the world (land area) is more likely to be "on our side," so to speak. Russia is still kind of a fledgling democracy. Not ideal, but better relations with US can help.
Russia could go the "other" way also. It could drift back toward a more dictatorial regime. Trade and communication can, hopefully, strengthen the hands of an open society within Russia.
Even though Russia isn't perfect, by any means, it's a work in progress, like every nation is.
We are still a work in progress.
Russia is, however, important. It's the biggest chunk on that "strategic game board" called Earth.
Maybe we shouldn't think of Earth as a strategic game board, but if that's the thinking we need, Russia is a prize piece.
We need that piece for oil and other reasons. That piece can strengthen our hand in dealing with Iran and other dictatorial states.
The west is still helping to finance the Iranian government; their nuclear ambitions, their military, and so forth. We're buying their oil.
Russia has oil also. Maybe we can buy more oil from Russia and have more leverage in our negotiations with Iran.
Our dependency on oil is a weakness in our strategies.
We could use our oil purchases as a powerful economic tool to push for better human rights in Iran. We can better use it to assist fledgling democratic movements within Iran and other places. If we do that, it helps to be able to boycott their oil, for a short time at least, if need be.