Sunday, July 24, 2005

We Need a Strong and Secure Russia

Alexander Vershbow, the departing U.S. Ambassador to Russia makes that casem, and rightly so, is a column that he wrote for Moskovskie Novosti at Reviving the Cold War?
My four-year assignment in Russia is coming to an end. Since coming here to work as an ambassador, not to mention my Russian university years during the Cold War, our relations have gone through a long journey. Currently the tone is set by the personal contact of the presidents of our two countries. Russia and the United States have forged excellent cooperation in fighting terrorism. Even spheres where tensions were visible until recently — the ABM treaty, global security — have become an arena of partnership.

But I cannot ignore what raises concern. I will not stop on the trifles, such as the intrigues of the Russian bureaucracy in relation to American business. I am far more concerned by the growing distrust of the intentions of the United States. Often, even high-placed Russian officials are heard saying: the United States is interested in weakening Russia. This refrain is repeated with particular insistence regarding recent events in the post-Soviet space, where everyone sees the hand of America.
Mr. Vershbow discusses some of these issues of mistrust and goes on to say;
Let’s put aside the slander. America needs a strong and stable Russia — a weak Russia would be a nightmare for us. The United States still intends to encourage Russia in carrying out its responsibilities before the community of democratic countries, especially taking into account that Russia will preside over the Group of Eight next year. Yes, we have our differences, such as over Iraq; however, we are united today by a whole lot more. It’s clear that Russian public opinion lags behind the real progress made in our relations. It’s time to catch up.
The U.S. and Russia are natural allies in the WoT. They have a huge problem with militant Islam and Islamic terrorism. It looks as though they are about to make the necessary adjustment to their Army to meet this challenge, and that is a very good thing.

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