Recognizing Russia’s strategic importance to the United States, Deputy Secretary William J. Burns today said U.S.-Russia relations are often an uneasy mix of competition and cooperation.
In his remarks on Russia’s WTO accession at DC, Mr. Burns stresses that the US has real and continuing differences with Russia.
Mr. Burnn says he has spent a good deal of his diplomatic career helping Administrations of both parties navigate US complicated relationship with Russia.
“I have seen moments of considerable promise, at the end of the Cold War and more recently in deepening cooperation on Afghanistan and nuclear arms reductions.” -Mr. Burns
He adds that he has also seen moments of sharp differences, whether during the Russia-Georgia war in the summer of 2008 or over their enduring human rights concerns.
“We are under no illusions about the challenges that lie ahead.” – Mr. Burns
He stresses that while it may be tempting to downplay Russia’s importance, the United States simply does not have that luxury.
He notes that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council; as one of the world’s largest nuclear powers; and as the world’s single largest producer of hydrocarbons, Russia’s strategic importance to the U.S. will matter for many years to come.
“We disagree fundamentally about the situation in Georgia. On Syria.” -Mr. Burns
He urges Russia to push the Syrian regime to implement Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, end the violence and work with the international community in promoting a serious and rapid political transition that includes Asad’s departure.
The United States also has consistently and directly stressed our concerns about human rights in Russia.
“And we have taken steps to address these challenges, including programs that support rule of law and civil society in Russia.” -Mr. Burns
He notes that following the tragic death of Sergey Magnitskiy, the US government has imposed restrictions to ensure that no one implicated in his death can travel to the U.S.
However, Mr. Burns emphasizes that the United States continues to believe that it is in America’s long-term strategic interest to work with Russia in areas where our interests overlap.
He cites that US-Russia’s work over the past three years has produced significant results, including the New START Treaty to reduce strategic nuclear weapons, an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, and military transit arrangements to support our efforts in Afghanistan.
He says Russia’s membership in the WTO will soon be a fact.
He notes that failing to lift Jackson-Vanik and extend PNTR will not penalize Russia nor will it provide a lever with which to change the government’s behavior.
“It will only hurt American workers and American companies. By extending PNTR, we can create new markets for our people and support the political and economic changes that the Russian people are seeking.” -Mr. Burns
He pointes out that PNTR is clearly in US economic self-interest, and it is an investment in a better partner over the long term for the United States.
In May this year, the United States of America underlined that it’s in US interest to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik.
The United States’ trade relationship with Russia is tied to a provision of U.S. trade law (the Jackson-Vanik amendment) enacted in the 1970s to condition normal trade relations (NTR) status on the then-Soviet Union’s willingness to let Jews emigrate freely.
The United States asserts that Jackson-Vanik should be lifted simply unrelated to anything else because it’s in US interest, at the same time strongly supports the goals of the Cardin legislation.
Obama administration have tried to approach the issue of Russia in general.
President Obama has been looking of areas of common interest, try to reach practical, real substantive agreements while also being very clear that there would be things we would disagree on and we wouldn’t sweep them under the carpet as we pursued these things, Mr. Gordon added.
Both countries have accomplished numerous thing particularly the New START Treaty or cooperation on Afghanistan which has been very significant to their efforts; or the 123 Nuclear Agreement on civil nuclear cooperation; Russian support on North Korea; and, particularly Iran.
Both countries have been working very hard, in US own interest, to reach an agreement that would benefit the two countries.
President Obama especially in this tough economic climate is determined to do everything he can for American firms and American exports.
The US government has pursued better relationship with Russia and concrete agreements with Russia.
The United States has been very clear about the importance of democracy, human rights, and civil society in US foreign policy.
Jackson-Vanik has long since fulfilled its purpose: each year since 1994, consecutive U.S. Administrations – both Republican and Democrat – have found Russia in compliance with Jackson-Vanik. Nevertheless, to fully access Russia’s WTO commitments, the U.S. Congress must graduate Russia from the amendment and make Russia’s NTR status permanent.
Russia is reportedly will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by mid-summer.
Russia’s membership in the world’s largest rules-based trading system is said to provide tangible benefits to Russia as well as for U.S. businesses.