Russia-US: Resetting Is Over But Software Is Dead – OpEd


By Nikita Sorokin

A new stage of Russian-US relations will start after the presidential election in the US, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with The Kommersant newspaper.

Lavrov also said that if the ‘resetting’ period lasted too long it would mean an error of the programme. Russia is prepared to resume the dialogue and the US has nothing against it on the official level either. At the same time, experts of both countries are paying their tribute to the completed period of resetting but are expressing reserved opinions of prospects for our relations in the foreseeable future.

Russia - United States Relations
Russia – United States Relations

On the whole, expressing a positive attitude to the results of the so-called resetting, Lavrov spoke about the need to protect our mutual achievements from the impact of changing political developments. To achieve this aim, it is necessary to consolidate and develop economic relations between Russia and the US. Most experts agree with this conclusion but they have different opinions of the ability of trade and economic relations to influence political ones. In recent years, the US has supported Russia in its accession to the WTO and this fact proves that our relations have started to change, Will Pomerantz, Deputy Director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars believes. He says, though, that the trade turnover between Russia and the US is not very high. Russia’s share in the US trade turnover is nearing 1%, which could hardly be considered a serious factor of the bilateral relations, head of the Centre for Comparative Investigations of the Institute of World Economics and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences Nikita Zagladin believes.

“In this situation, I cannot imagine in what spheres our trade and economic relations could develop. We are unlikely to offer the US anything that it needs in greater amounts than it is already buying from us.”

It is obvious that Russia and the US should pay attention to issues that so far exist only in theory, Deputy Director of the Institute of the US and Canada Viktor Kremeniuk said in an interview with The Voice of Russia.

“They are issues of the energy sector, energy security, the environment, financial markets, etc. At present, these issues are failing to become part of our practical relations.”

Tension in relations between our two countries both this and last year could be partially explained by the fact that the initial period of resetting has been completed, Thomas Graham from Kissinger Associates believes. In an interview with The Voice of Russia, Thomas Graham said that it was not clear how our relations would develop, what would be the agenda of our relations. As there is no clear picture at the moment, contradictions are coming to the fore. We always had differences on the protection of human rights in Russia, on the anti-missile defence in the last ten years and now on Syria, Thomas Graham said. In turn, Viktor Kremeniuk is convinced that the so-called resetting has not even started.

“That was the return of a dialogue with the US on control over strategic weapons which began 20 years ago. At that time we were a success but later our relations did not move an inch. We cooperate in control over strategic weapons and discuss potential spheres, like anti-missile defence where there has been a zero result so far. We help the US and NATO to keep their positions in Afghanistan and we have agreed to take part in post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan. We have little in common in our attitudes towards Iran, even though we have some common interests there, and we have absolutely nothing in common on Syria.”

Thomas Graham believes that the main problem in relations between Moscow and Washington is that there are no positive achievements at the moment that could become a counter-balance to the differences. President of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry Yevgeny Bazhanov agrees with the US expert.

“As for prospects for our relations, there are certainly enough grounds to believe that our relations will develop. Still, this does not mean that these relations will be agreeable because our interests do not always coincide. For example, we have different positions on Iran and not exactly similar approaches to the settlement in the Middle East or to issues associated with Iraq or North Korea. The main obstacle on the way to a versatile development of relations with the US is Americans’ never-ceasing attempts to win world leadership.”

At the same time, Bazhanov added, US-Chinese relations prove that in spite of numerous political and even military differences, Washington and Beijing still preserve close and wide relations in trade, economy and the humanitarian sphere. Russia does not have such assurance in relations with the US but this kind of assurance should be established in spite of all the differences, so as to strengthen the political basis for a bilateral dialogue.

Ria Novosti

RIA Novosti was Russia's leading news agency in terms of multimedia technologies, website audience reach and quoting by the Russian media.

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