Don't be naive about Russia's real aims
(Page 3 of 3)
Medvedev should be encouraged to demonstrate his commitment by apprehending those who ordered the murders of Anna Politkovskaya (a fearless journalist), human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, and other dissidents. On the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oilman, which has become a travesty of justice, he can bring closure and release Mr. Khodorkovsky from jail through an acquittal, suspended sentence, or a presidential pardon.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Above all, the Obama administration must remain realistic in its dealings with Moscow. It must keep its eyes open, following Russia's actions on the ground, examining the mindset of its foreign policy and security elites, and their efforts to undermine what they view as a US-led international security and economic architecture. Haste is ill-advised, as the Obama administration has not yet completed a comprehensive assessment of US-Russian relations, has not defined its objectives in Russia and Eurasia, and has not completed key personnel appointments. All this is overdue.
In parallel to the START negotiations, the US should propose a mechanism for regular consultations on Russia among the allies. Obama should also encourage America's European allies to diminish dependence on Russian gas and diversify their sources of energy. The administration should maintain European missile defense plans despite the recent setbacks in the Czech Republic. In talks with Russia, the Obama administration should support Ukraine and Georgia's territorial integrity.
If Russia reconsiders its anti-American stance, the US should be prepared to pursue matters of common interest, such as the recent agreement on military supplies to Afghanistan and the strategic-weapons-limitations agreement. Obama is rightly prepared to offer real incentives, such as US support for Russian entry into the World Trade Organization, and should support for repealing the obsolete, trade restricting Jackson–Vanik Amendment of 1974, and resubmission to Congress of the 123 Nuclear Agreement, which would allow US nuclear reactor waste processed by Russia and earn billions of dollars a year doing that.
The US can explore Russia's willingness to rethink its relationship with Iran and prevent it from going nuclear in the near future.
Yet Washington should not bargain away the independence and sovereignty of countries in Eurasia, dismiss concerns over human rights and rule of law in Russia, allow Moscow to rewrite the geopolitical map of Europe with its new "European security concept," or acquiesce to a new global economic architecture. This is not the time for naïveté.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is senior research fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security at the Katherine and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.