Joint efforts by Russia and the United States aimed at normalizing bilateral relations would be supported by most Congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic parties, former US Ambassador to Russia (2001-2005) Alexander Vershbow told TASS.
Commenting on the prospects for further developing bilateral ties, Vershbow, who previously served as the Deputy Secretary-General of NATO and is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said: “I sincerely hope that the US and Russia can move toward more constructive and predictable relations.”
“The current situation bears risks that a small incident could escalate to a real conflict. Moreover, there are many global issues where we have similar interests such as defeating international terrorism and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and where we have cooperated to mutual benefit in the past,” the expert stressed.
“But real progress depends on Russia returning to respect for international law and for the rules-based system that Russia itself helped to establish in such documents as the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and the NATO-Russia Founding Act,” he said.
Vershbow went on to explain that the Congress and the Republican party’s establishment took similar stances on Russia’s policy in Ukraine and Syria. “At the same time, I believe that most leaders of both political parties would support efforts to improve bilateral relations if they were based on reciprocal steps by Moscow and Washington to reduce tensions.” “But a “reset” based on one-sided US concessions, as Russia’s leaders seem to expect, would generate strong political opposition.”
“I think there has been a lot of wishful thinking among Russian politicians and commentators about another “reset” of US-Russia relations by the incoming Trump administration, similar to what took place in 2009,” Vershbow stated. Nonetheless, he added that President-elect Donald Trump had made clear his interest in establishing a good relationship with President Vladimir Putin.
“In fact, the issues dividing Washington and Moscow are much more serious today than they were seven years ago,” Vershbow noted. He believes that a genuine “reset” in US-Russia (and NATO-Russia) relations will be impossible without any concrete steps by Russia. “In particular, there needs to be full implementation of all aspects of the Minsk agreements and renewed respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.”
“This is a view shared by Congressional leaders of both parties, and by US allies and partners in NATO and the EU,” the former ambassador said.
Trump said in an interview with the New York Times that he favors normalizing ties between Washington and Moscow but does not want to use the term “reset” for this policy. The president-elect noted that it would be “nice” if he and Vladimir Putin could get along. However, he rejected the idea to call any warming of relations between Russia and the US a “reset.”