New Initiative On U.S.–Russia Relations Releases First Joint Study

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The Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations, a bilateral collective of rising experts from American and Russian institutions, announces the publication of its first joint report: “U.S.-Russia Relations in Post-Soviet Eurasia: Transcending the Zero-Sum Game.”

Coauthored by Samuel Charap (Center for American Progress, Washington, D.C.) and Mikhail Troitskiy (Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russia), it examines in detail how the United States’ and Russia’s ties with the countries of post-Soviet Eurasia affect the bilateral relationship.

The report was issued today in Washington, DC at a meeting chaired by Cory Welt, Associate Director, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs; and convened by PONARS Eurasia, based at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School. 

The authors argue that despite the initial successes of the “reset” in U.S.-Russia relations, disputes relating to post-Soviet Eurasia represent “a ‘landmine’ in U.S.-Russia relations that...could ‘detonate’ at any time and seriously complicate cooperation on other issues.” The study identifies key sources of U.S.-Russia tensions in post-Soviet Eurasia and recommends specific measures to facilitate improvement. The complete text of the report in both English and Russian is accessible on the Working Group’s website: http://us-russiafuture.org.

The Working Group, housed at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and PONARS Eurasia are supported by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The Working Group was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of overcoming the lingering mistrust that dominates policy debate about the bilateral relationship in both countries. The group’s 20 members meet twice a year, alternating between Cambridge, Mass., and Moscow, Russia. Each meeting is devoted to analysis of a single subject, with the results integrated into a paper coauthored by one American and one Russian. This unique, truly bilateral approach allows the Working Group to generate path-breaking policy proposals that reflect the interests of both countries.

“The Working Group is a genuinely equal partnership. It reflects our starting point: mutual respect for the other side’s perspectives, even when they differ,” said Timothy Colton, the American co-chair of the Working Group and Chair of the Department of Government at Harvard University. “At the same time, it embodies our conviction that innovative approaches to overcoming obstacles to better bilateral relations are both possible and necessary.”

Sergei Karaganov, the Russian co-chair and dean of the School of World Economics and International Affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, added: “We need to engage a new generation of experts on both sides, and get beyond confrontation and the repetition of mantras. We’re focusing on the strategic considerations at stake, as well as the micro-level details of particular issues, in order to start untangling the conceptual knots that have stalled progress in the Russia-U.S. relationship.”

The next meeting of the Working Group is slated for December 2011 in Moscow.

The Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations convenes rising experts from leading American and Russian institutions to tackle the thorniest issues in the bilateral relationship. By engaging the latest generation of scholars in face-to-face discussion and debate, we aim to generate innovative analysis and policy recommendations that better reflect the common ground between the United States and Russia that is so often obscured by mistrust. We believe our unique, truly bilateral approach offers the best potential for breakthroughs in mutual understanding and reconciliation between our countries.

The Russian side of the Working Group published a comprehensive report on the bilateral relationship—“U.S.-Russia Relations after the ‘Reset’: Building a New Agenda. A View from Russia”—in March 2011. For the complete text, visit http://valdaiclub.com/publication/22285.html.

The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, established at Harvard University in 1948, supports graduate students, maintains research infrastructure for scholars of all disciplines who focus on Eurasia, hosts visitors from other domestic and foreign institutions, holds seminars and conferences, and organizes sponsored research projects. It is also a vehicle for the study and discussion of public policy topics.

The National Research University—Higher School of Economics (NRU–HSE) was established in 1992 on the initiative of renowned Russian economists and leading reformists from the Russian government in order to promote economic and social reforms. Today, NRU–HSE is one of the leading Russian universities, enjoying the respect of the academic, business and policy-making communities.