Repairing U.S.-Russian relations: The transatlantic dimension
On June 3, GMF hosted an event entitled "Repairing U.S.-Russian relations: The transatlantic dimension," with Eugene B. Rumer, senior fellow in the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, Angela E. Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and Emma Udwin, member of the cabinet of European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The event was moderated by Ron Asmus, executive director of the Transatlantic Center and Strategic Planning at GMF.
Dr. Stent first introduced the policy study titled "Repairing U.S.-Russian Relations: A Long Road Ahead," and gave an overview of its content. She stressed that the challenge to formulate a policy towards Russia, which reflects U.S. interests, is not new. She however noted that the Obama administration appears to be trying to reset the button. The theme of resetting the U.S.-Russian relationship has been mentioned frequently by administration officials and was often repeated at the Obama-Medvedev meeting. Yet the task of formulating such a policy appears no less difficult today, as it has in the past. Despite the lack of consensus among the EU member states, developing a new policy must include the EU, because so many different stakeholders are involved. In order to come up with a constructive dialogue, the United States needs to work together with the EU and Russia.
Dr. Rumer continued the discussion by pointing out further perspectives of the U.S. - EU - Russia relationship. He explained that if the route to Afghanistan through Pakistan is blocked, the United States will have to refocus on Central Asia. Therefore, Russia needs to be engaged in this process without having the tendency to undermine sovereignty or independence. He further pointed out that Russia is the gateway for Caspian energy supplies to the EU. As to Iran, he noted, Russia should be kept involved, however he does not think that Russia can achieve significant steps in changing the U.S. relationship with Iran.
After the war in Georgia, one question remains: What are the next steps? It is clear that an expanded dialogue will not suffice, but that both the Ukraine and Georgia need to see the accession to NATO as "the end of the tunnel." In this instance, it is similarly important that the EU takes an active leadership position.
The EU response to Dr. Stent and Dr. Rumer's presentation was delivered by Emma Udwin, who said that if the United States wishes to push the reset button it should be aware that this is happening at a time when Russia wants to redefine its role and profile as well as seeks more acknowledgement and respect. Furthermore, it remains unclear how far the United States wants to go with resetting the button and whether it will be just a change in tone or a change in attitude, which will give Russia the feeling of being back in the game. In addition, it is crucial that Europe, as direct neighbor to Russia, is involved and takes lead in the process. Even though it seems that the EU is not to ready to take unanimous stance on the conflicts sour surrounding the Ukraine and Georgia, the United States should continue to support the EU on the undertaking of this eastern partnership.