AMERICA MOVES INTO RUSSIA’S POSITION

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Commission advises Obama administration to reconsider Russia policy

A commission for US policy on Russia has prepared a report for President Barack Obama, recommending that the United States should be more cautious in criticizing Russia’s human rights situation, should support Russia’s accession to the WTO, and should acknowledge that Moscow has legitimate interests in the former USSR.


A commission for US policy on Russia has prepared a report for President Barack Obama, recommending that the United States should be more cautious in criticizing Russia’s human rights situation, should support Russia’s accession to the WTO, should acknowledge that Moscow has legitimate interests in the former USSR, and should not admit Georgia or Ukraine into NATO. Former secretary of state James Baker is coming to Moscow soon, to handle preparations for President Obama’s first visit to Russia; according to our sources, that visit should take place in July.

This week will see the final Russian-American talks before presidents Dmitri Medvedev and Barack Obama meet in person for the first time, on April 1 in London. According to Kremlin administration sources, the current plan is for the two leaders to meet for one hour. Clearly, this first meeting shouldn’t be expected to produce any great achievements; but both Moscow and Washington are making every effort to ensure that the two presidents like each other.

A “group of elder statesmen” is supposed to prepare Medvedev for this meeting: the “Russia and the USA: looking to the future” group starts work tomorrow and will meet with Medvedev on March 20. A large group of well-known and influential American politicians is coming to Moscow: Henry Kissinger (the group’s American co-chairman), George Schultz, William Perry, Richard Rubin, and Sam Nunn. The Russian members of the group include Yevgeny Primakov, Igor Ivanov, and Yuri Baluyevsky.

This will be the second time in two weeks that Medvedev has received a delegation of influential American elder statesmen. Former senators Chuck Hagel and Garry Hart, together with Brent Scowcroft, visited the Kremlin last week. They are members of a non-governmental commission for US policy on Russia. They came to show Medvedev a draft report on the future of bilateral relations; President Obama instructed the commission to produce this report.

According to our sources, the draft report made an extremely positive impression on the Kremlin.

The commission’s report, released yesterday, may indeed be the most flattering description of Russia since the end of the Cold War. It states that few countries are as significant as Russia for the success of the United States, and goes on to say that the USA is resolved to improve relations with Russia – not as a reward for Moscow’s good behavior in the international arena or encouragement for the Russian government’s domestic policies, but as a means of acknowledging the importance of cooperation with Russia in achieving America’s vital goals. These priority goals, impossible to achieve without Russia, include preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, defeating Al Qaeda, stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, and ensuring security and prosperity in Europe.

The report maintains that previous US administrations have misunderstood Russia, accepting wishful thinking as reality. It recommends efforts to improve America’s understanding of Russia’s interests as defined by Russians.

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