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Is Russia Backing Away From Commitments for a Democratic Society?

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With the recent booting of USAID out of Russia, the United States of America today said the Russian decision to end USAID activities in the country has driven democracy and human rights around the world to see Russia backing away from commitments for a democratic society that allows for free expression.

In his remarks at press gaggle following remarks at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Assistant Secretary Phillip Gordon says there's a pattern going on over recent months in terms of treatment of NGOs, and deeming them foreign agentsthat lead people to the conclusion that Russia is somehow resisting the trend towards democracy, free expression and human rights.

"The United States has been consistent, will continue to support democracy, free expression and human rights." -Mr. Gordon

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Presidents Bush and Putin at the 33rd G8 summit, June 2007. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
He adds that it sends a negative signal, but not in isolation - combined with other measures that the Russian government has taken.

Did the U.S. see this coming?

Mr. Gordon said that there's been talk for some time about the Russian government desire to end the USAID mission specifically and more generally to end this sort of activity which is consistent with their other measures on NGOs.

He says the Russian government has described this as a reflection of its new degree of economic development, and it's not, they have said, a walking away from their support for these activities, but that Russia doesn't need this anymore.

"We hope that they will follow up and provide support for the types of things that USAID has been supporting over the years." - Mr. Gordon

He highlighted that if Russia wants to act on the basis of being a G8 country and an advanced economy and believe that they can support these goals without the United States, given that US support those goals.

Russia on Wednesday has demanded an end to USAID activities in the country until October 1 this year.

Reports say Russia sent a letter to United States last week saying it didn't need Washington's help anymore.

In her statement at Washington DC today, Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland confirmed that the United States recently received the Russian Government's decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
However, Ms. Nuland pointed out that while USAID's physical presence in Russia will come to an end, the United States remains committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia.

The US govenrment looks forward to continuing its cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations, Ms. Nuland added.

The USAID has worked in Russia since the Soviet Union's demise 20 years ago. The aid agency is promoting what a more open and innovative society and a strengthened partnership between Russia and the United States.

Reports say the USAID has spent some $2.7 billion. It planned $50 million in programs this year.

In July 2012, recognizing the growing threat from short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to US deployed forces, allies, and partners, the United States of America has underlined its commitment to pursue missile defense cooperation with Russia.

Missile defense cooperation with Russia is a Presidential priority, as it has been for several Administrations going back to President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s.

Successful missile defense cooperation would provide concrete benefits to Russia, NATO Allies, and the United States and will strengthen strategic stability over the long term.

Close cooperation between Russia and the United States and NATO is the best and most enduring way for Russia to gain the assurance that European missile defenses cannot and will not undermine its strategic deterrent.

The United States believes that such cooperation can enhance the security of the United States, its allies in Europe, and Russia.

President Obama has also indicated that the US can't limit the U.S. and NATO missile defense system to a legally binding framework.

However, President Obama has repeatedly stressed both publicly and privately that U.S. and NATO missile defense efforts are not intended nor are they capable of threatening Russia's strategic nuclear deterrence forces.

United States and Russia have been working together to transform mistrust into partnerships and progress as both countries affirmed cooperation in keeping global security after the end of the Cold War.

In an effort to promote understanding and cooperation on missile defense issues, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed at the July 2009 Moscow Summit to conduct joint assessments of missile challenges and threats as well.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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