A Reset for the U.S.-Russia Values Gap

A Reset for the U.S.-Russia Values Gap
Policy Outlook
Despite the reset, a values gap still exists between Russia and the United States that could limit progress, undermine trust and confidence in the bilateral relationship, and raise difficult issues that cannot be ignored.
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Nearly two years after the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia, significant accomplishments have validated a policy based on cooperating on shared interests and building working-level relationships as a foundation for future cooperation and conflict prevention. Moscow and Washington have worked together to reduce both sides’ nuclear arsenals and combat global nuclear proliferation, to support peacekeeping and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and to prepare coordinated responses to international terrorist threats.

Yet critics have rightly pointed out that Russia is still far from a steadfast U.S. ally, and that some of the Kremlin’s conduct at home—arresting dissidents, muzzling independent media, and concentrating wealth in the hands of loyal oligarchs—remains troubling. Despite the reset, a “values gap” still exists between Russia and the United States that limits progress, undermines trust and confidence in the bilateral relationship, and raises difficult issues that cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately, the responses to this challenge proposed by experts on both sides of an ongoing debate in Washington are at best inadequate, and at worst fundamentally misguided. On the one hand, a policy of “linkage”—making nascent U.S.-Russia cooperation across the board conditional on the Kremlin’s domestic policies and human rights record—will not work. Rather, it is likely to undermine U.S. influence with Moscow that could be used to support change over the long term. On the other hand, compartmentalizing Russian domestic politics and U.S.-Russia cooperation on shared interests may send the wrong signal to Moscow, implying that it can deepen cooperation with Washington and increase Washington’s stake in the relationship without taking any actions to reduce the values gap.

It is time for a new approach, focusing on the intersection between concrete U.S. interests and the principles that have been accepted in greater Europe since the Helsinki Final Act was adopted in 1975. First, the United States should work with European allies and multilateral institutions to remind Russia of commitments to international rules and norms it has freely undertaken, such as the Charter of Paris and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Second, the U.S. government should fulfill its duty to support the interests of U.S. citizens and U.S. companies working in Russia, insist on legal protections for U.S. entrepreneurs and innovators participating in Russia’s “modernization”  campaign, and make clear that Russia must accept American rules when it participates in the U.S. market.

Third, recalling its own substantial political investment in U.S.-Russia cooperation, the Obama administration should remind Moscow that political repression and economic abuses will cause a backlash among Americans and limits its ability to pursue broader and deeper engagement with Russia in the future. By focusing on how Russian domestic  policies affect U.S. interests, Washington has a better chance to influence change in Moscow than by holding cooperation hostage to unrealistic goals or by artificially de-linking Russia’s domestic policies from the U.S.-Russia relationship.

End of document

About the Russia and Eurasia Program

The Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Program has, since the end of the Cold War, led the field of Eurasian security, including strategic nuclear weapons and nonproliferation, development, economic and social issues, governance, and the rule of law.

Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2010/11/30/reset-for-u.s.-russia-values-gap/2frp

U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission

Eurasia Outlook

In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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