Rice: U.S. and Europe must stand up to Russia together
At a speech hosted by the German Marshall Fund on Thursday, September 18, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States and Europe must stand up together in the face of an assertive Russia but rejected the idea of another Cold War.
"The United States and Europe must not allow Russia's aggression to achieve any benefit," Rice said. "Not in Georgia, not anywhere."
The speech was Rice's first major speech on U.S.-Russia relations since the outbreak of armed conflict in South Ossetia. In it, she also said that Russia's intimidation of its neighbors, its threats of nuclear attack, its use of oil and gas as weapons on the political front, its arm sales to rogue nations, its suspension of the CFE Treaty, and its political persecution of Russian journalists and dissidents, all paint a picture "of a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad."
Speaking before an audience of more than 300 diplomats, policymakers, thought leaders, and international media, Rice deeply criticized Russia for its actions against Georgia, saying that its strategic objectives of deposing the democratically-elected president, Mikhail Saakashvili, had failed and it has put Russia on a "one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance."
She said Russia's recent actions in Georgia were "a critical moment for Russia and the world," and she said that the international community will stand up to Russia and not allow it to bully its neighbors.
Rice rejected any idea that the United States and Russia are engaging in another Cold War. "No, we are not," she said.
Rice talked about the shared challenges and interests of the United States and Russia. "We and Russia share an interest in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and stopping Iran's rulers from acquiring the world's deadliest weapons," she said. "We and Russia share an interest in a secure Middle East where there is peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And we and Russia share an interest in preventing the Security Council from reverting to the gridlocked institution it was during the Cold War."
The United States will not allow its differences with Russia to "obstruct a deepening relationship with our societies," Rice said, adding that the United States would continue to support Russian students, teachers, labor leaders, journalists, activists and others who want to visit America. She also urged the next U.S. administration to take the time to visit with civil society organizations in Russia as well as take the time to interview with the country's diminishing independent media.
But she warned that largely as a result of its actions in Georgia, "Russia's international standing is worse than at any time since 1991. And the cost of this self-inflicted isolation has been steep." Among other consequences, she said, "Russia's leaders are imposing pain on their nation's economy." She noted that Russia's bids to join the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are at risk, and that the country's civil nuclear cooperation with the United States is "not going anywhere now."
"If Russia ever wants to be more than just an energy supplier, its leaders have to recognize a hard truth: Russia depends on the world for its success, and it cannot change that," she said.
The speech was followed by a brief question and answer period and then concluded by GMF's president, Craig Kennedy, who had also introduced Rice.