I am by no means going to raise a political discussion in this thread but what made me start this topic is my doubt that the speech I'm going to quote below has been properly understood by Russian media therefore I'd like to know how would you (especially American English native speakers) interpret that:

I think if you look at the situation.. there's a political debate that has happened in this country on whether we.. or whether Russia is our friend or whether that is not our friend. That's really the wrong question to have because Russia's never gonna be our friend. But having said that that doesn't mean that we don't wanna work with them. But we work with them when we need to and we slap them when we need to. That's just the way it needs to be.

So I'm choosing between 3 interpretations of the phrase Russia's never gonna be our friend:

  1. "We don't want to have friendly relations with Russia"

  2. "I don't expect we will ever achieve friendly relations with Russia"

  3. "Russia doesn't have intentions to have friendly relations with the U.S."

Russian media sticks to the option #1 and it seems to fit with the subsequent Nikki's phrase ("we don't want friendship but that doesn't mean we don't want to cooperate with them") while I think it's more like #3 and this interpretation seems to be logical given the preceding sentence ("we have debates about possible friendship but they don't have such intentions at all").

So, what interpretation seems to be the most precise to you?

  • For me, it cannot be interpreted into either choice 1 or 3 becase the phrase does not describe "We don't want" and "Russia doesn't have intentions". Therefore, it should be choice 2 since the phrase does not suggest which party does not accept the other one. By the way, I am not an American English native speaker.
    – holydragon
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 16:13
  • 1
    "Russia's never gonna be our friend" means that Russia doesn't want to be our friend (or won't make an effort or compromise to do so), so use 3.
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 20:48
  • @user3169 but doesn't this interpretation contradict the subsequent phrase? This one: "But having said that that doesn't mean that we don't wanna work with them.". It may seem that she implied that Russia rather doesn't deserve to be their friend and in the next sentence clarifies that despite this fact they are still ready to work with Russia at some points.
    – Wildfire
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 3:29
  • "But having said that" introduces a counterpoint that does not have to agree with the previous statement. "work with them" is not the same as "being our friend".
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 4:17
  • @user3169 and one more question (sorry for being too picky, I'm just trying to foresee possible arguments of proponents of the interpretation made by Russian media), How'd you change these 2 sentences: "Russia's never gonna be our friend. But having said that that doesn't mean that we don't wanna work with them." to make them sound hostile (explicitly stating that the U.S. will never regard Russia as its friend) but still as close to the original as possible?
    – Wildfire
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 5:20

2 Answers 2


I think that it's option 2 because one of the usages of be going to is to express prediction. And I'm not a native American.

  • Actually I came across 2 meanings of be going to one of them being prediction and another one being intention. The difference between them is in fact crucial: "intention" implies that the spokeswoman doesn't see Russia's will to become their friend while "prediction" means that she just doesn't believe the friendship will be ever established for whatever reason or maybe it's even implied that Russia doesn't deserve to be their friend. Do you think the second meaning (intention) cannot be applied to this context?
    – Wildfire
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 3:25

Option 2 with a little bit of Option 3. The sentence itself simply makes a prediction ("America and Russia will never have friendly relations") without saying one way or another why the speaker predicts this.

But if it's from a politician there's a little bit of connotation of Option 3, because politicians like to paint a picture where we would like to be friendly to every other country but they won't let us.

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