US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has dismissed talk of a new Cold War between Russia and the US, at the start of a visit to Moscow.
Rice will be hoping her meeting with Putin overcomes tensions
Ms Rice said "I think the parallels just frankly have no basis whatsoever", while acknowledging that "it's not an easy time" for Russian-US relations.
The Kremlin has expressed strong opposition to US plans to deploy a missile defence shield in Europe.
Washington's backing for Kosovo's independence has also been attacked.
For her part, Ms Rice has criticised what she sees as democratic setbacks in President Vladimir Putin's Russia, says the BBC's correspondent at the state department, Jonathan Beale.
Her key meetings will take place on Tuesday, when she meets Mr Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
She said she did not like the current "rhetoric" surrounding US-Russian relations, but added that "it's not a time in which I think any sort of cataclysmic things are happening".
Recently Mr Putin accused the US of making the world a more dangerous place.
The United States believes Mr Putin has backtracked on democratic reforms, but at the same time the Bush administration needs the support of Moscow on a range of issues, says our correspondent.
Ms Rice will be trying to reassure Russia about its plans to extend the US missile defence shield in Eastern Europe.
Russia remains vehemently opposed to having more US military hardware so close to its own backyard, our correspondent says.
The US opened talks with Poland on Monday over its plans to locate part of its defence shield on Polish soil.
The US wants 10 interceptor rockets there to destroy any long-range ballistic missiles fired at the US from the Middle East.
Warsaw has indicated it will back the plan if it improves Poland's security.
The US also wants a radar base in the Czech Republic.
Ms Rice will additionally try to overcome Russia's objections to efforts to help Kosovo on the path towards independence. Russia believes Kosovo should remain part of Serbia.
Washington also needs Russia's support to keep up the international pressure on Iran's nuclear programme.