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US-Russia Relations, 200 Years Later
22 March 2007
US-Russia Relations, 200 Years Later

US-Russia Relations
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By Josh Wilson, Asst. Director, The School of Russian and Asian Studies

The United States and Russia are marking the 200th anniversary of bi-lateral relations this year. These relations have been eventful to say the least - and continue to produce drama on a seeming roller-coaster of events, with a high point marked just recently in 2001 and current "frosting over" of relations for the past several years. To help readers better understand the issues at hand, we have compiled the following review of Russian new of representative stories.


Closer Than We Think
The US embassy in Moscow is sponsering an essay contest - share your personal experiance with recent Russian history!

A Full Calendar of Events
A full list of official events marking the anniversary.

Quiz Your Knowledge of Russia! 
A simple quiz from the US State Department. SRAS scored 95%. How well will you do?


Why the Cold Shoulder?
My generation arrived in this world when Russia and America were engaged in a Cold War confrontation... and now I'm afraid that when my generation leaves this world, America and Russia will be adversaries again.

Why America and Russia Need Each Other
"The main message I have today is that we need to awaken to the importance of the relationship between Russia and the United States."

A Cold Peace Is More Dangerous Than A Cold War
The coming era of Cold Peace will be more dangerous in many respects than the Cold War itself.

Solzhenitsyn Applauds Russian Foreign Policy
Russian Nobel Prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn has applauded the country's foreign polices, but voiced concerns about its declining moral and cultural standards and the growing social gap.

Russia's Cold War Bluster
If there's a whiff of cold war in the geopolitical air these days, it clearly has something to do with Moscow's cherished ambition to restore Russia's standing as a great power.


Very often, the media will publish "dramatic" stories that focus on events surrounding one or a few people and present these stories as if they all-encompassing of far more complex foreign relations. The media has also, in our opinion, often guessed at the cause of these events without waiting for legal process or further information. While these stories are important in forming public perception, (and hence are listed here), they should not be regarded as more important as more lasting and broad-based issues (see the following sections).

Russian Analyst Robbed During Shooting
A noted expert in Russian intelligence was shot outside his house in the Washington suburbs.

Khodorkovsky Affair Drags On
Russian Prosecutors filed fresh charges against former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Most analysts, including the Russian media, have called these unjustified and possibly politically motivated.

Litvinenko Inquiry "Nearing End"
Alexander Litvinenko, an "exiled" dissident, was poisoned with a massive dose of polonium.

Tests Confirm Thallium Poisoning of Two U.S. Women
Two American women suffered thallium poisoning while in Russia.


The US has often said that its deteriorating relations with Russia stem in large part from US attempts to prevent Russia from "backsliding" on democracy. Indeed, from an American perspective, it would seem that Russia is rife with human rights abuses, crumbling voting and political participation rights, and growing government intervention in business and media. But if this is so, why are the great majority of Russians in favor of the current president?

A Rare Visit to Chechnya
"I stayed at the gate, and the guard let my husband inside," she recalls. "I waited and waited. He didn't come back." So I asked the guard to phone the prosecutor's office. But this was what they said: 'There was never any such person here.'"

Putin "Arguably World's Most Popular Leader" - 70% Approval Ratings
"Putin is a great president because he is a strong man and only a strong man can achieve anything in Russia," said 16-year-old Anna Prokofieva, who was on her way to high school. "Why should we care if the world likes this? We understand this."

Opposition Parties "Shut Out" of Regional Elections
In the absence of genuine competition, political analysts say the main interest in the vote will be to see how the established party of power, United Russia, stacks up against Fair Russia, its new pro-government rival.

Human Rights Just One of Two Faces of American Politics
A peculiar division of roles exists between the State Department and the White House.

Vladimir Putin is Franklin Roosevelt of Our Time
Not unlike Franklin Roosevelt in his time, Vladimir Putin should strengthen administrative control and make maximum use of the presidential powers.

Echoes of Stalin in Tea Party Arrests
Russian authorities were accused of turning the clock back to Stalinist times yesterday after a group of human rights activists was found guilty of having an "unsanctioned" afternoon tea party with two Westerners.

Oksana Chelysheva: The Slow, Painful Death of Journalism in Russia
For a while, we are not going to be acting as a clearing house for news about Chechnya Oksana Chelysheva and Stanislav Dmitrievski were awarded the Amnesty International UK media award for "human rights journalism under threat" in 2006


Official rhetoric also often plays to oversimplification. However, it is usually much more indicative of more important issues and how they play into forming relations between countries.

Munich Conference Speech
This speech has caused quite a stir in international politics. Many dubbed this an "outburst" against the United States. Others have called it a reasoned list of grievances. However it is seen, it is an important event in US-Russia relations.

Senate Hears Unprecedented Anti-Putin Statements
In his opinion, Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly under the influence of the siloviki, or so-called "strong men," in his inner circle.

Press Roundtable by U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley
"We do not read President Putin's comments the way some have suggested, as an invitation to confrontation. We do not think they were intended that way, and we do not read them that way."

Russian FM Speaks on Results of His Visit to Washington
The Russian foreign minister Saturday touched upon the key issues of Russia-U.S. relations and the situation in the Middle East.


Foreign relations are heavily influenced by military assessments of the potential threat another country may pose. This is often calculated by assessing the other country's military capability against assessments of possible areas of competition for resources and influence. Russia is heavily investing in its military capability and is competing with the US for influence primarily in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern and Central Europe.

Russia Invites U.S. to Sign Non-Aggression Agreement
In light of U.S. plans to deploy a global missile defense system, Moscow has invited Washington to conclude legally-binding agreements guaranteeing that their military potentials will not be targeted against each other.

Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence
Russian assertiveness will continue to inject elements of rivalry and antagonism into US dealings with Moscow...

Current and Projected National Security Threats
Russian leaders view a strong military as a necessary component to return their country to great power status.

Russia's Upcoming Revised Military Doctrine
The entries on threats -- mainly referring to the West in general and the United States and N.A.T.O. in particular -- correspond with the deteriorating relationship between Russia and the West. 

Interview of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov
If we really speak about potential threats coming, say, from Iran or North Korea, antimissile defense components should be sited not where it has been proposed to site them.

Testimony of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
We need both the ability for regular force-on-force conflicts because we don't know what's going to develop in places like Russia and China, in North Korea, in Iran and elsewhere.

Russian Deals in Middle East Snarl U.S. Strategy on Iran
As the U.S. struggles to contain Iran and its nuclear program, it is bumping into a new impediment: an assertive Russia bent on regaining leverage - and markets - in the Middle East.


One reason why current US-Russia relations are being called "a new cold war" is because they often revolve around discussions nuclear armaments, defense, and deterrence.

Nuclear Arms to be Discussed
"We don't want a discussion reduced to the idea that, since we are no longer opponents, there is no need for us to restrain each other."

Russia Threatens to Target Missile Defense System in Eastern Europe
"The Strategic Missile Troops will be capable of destroying US antimissile facilities if they are deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic."

United States Delivered Key Radar to Russia's Borders
The key component of the U.S. Ground-Base Midcourse Defense Program, Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX), has been delivered to Russia’s borders.

U.S. Expansion Top Russian Security Threat
Russia's top military officer said the United States is expanding its economic, political and military presence in Russia's traditional zones of influence, and described it as the top national security threat, in the latest signal of a growing chill in U.S.-Russian relations.


Countries also often compete for allies and for foreign policy objectives in other countries and regions. This can also create allies or enemies. As mentioned above, the US and Russia are seeing conflicts develop in different regions of the world as diverse as Latin America and Eastern Europe. Russia has also grated the EU on certain issues, and as the EU is a closer ally than Russia, the US is likely to back the EU.

Putin Begins Tour of Traditional US Terrain in Middle East
Russian President Vladimir Putin will start a three-day tour through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar on Sunday, seeking to build on growing energy and military ties with traditional US allies in the Middle East.

Russia to Delay the Completion of the Busher Project
Russia's Atomstroiexport (a state-run company) announced, on March 12, that the Iranian-based Busher nuclear plant will not become operational in November, as previously planned. The company explained that the postponing was caused by the delays in funding the project by the Iranian side. Some analysts however suggested that the announcement may signal a tougher position of Moscow toward Tehran with regards to Iran’s nuclear policy.

EU Should Keep Away From Ex-Soviet Areas
Russia warned the European Union on Tuesday not to tread on its toes in ex-Soviet areas that Moscow regards as being within its sphere of influence.

Putin Interviews with Al-Jazeera
I know of no country that has not at some point or another been criticised for its foreign policy, if it is able to pursue an active and independent foreign policy in keeping with its national interests.

No Fear of Russia Exploiting the Developing World
Russia and China are becoming increasingly integrated into the global economy, and both have stepped up their activity sharply in Africa, Latin America and Asia in recent years, trends that are only likely to accelerate in the future.

Russia, China, India Declare Common Approach
All crisis situations in the world should be settled through a dialogue and by collective efforts, without any confrontation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting with foreign ministers of India and China.

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