For Immediate Release: December 7, 2000
Contact: Julie Shaw, 202-939-2211

An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations

Major New Report by Top Experts
Advises Next U.S. President on Russia Policy

In a major new report, An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations, senior Carnegie Endowment experts call on the new U.S. administration to take the necessary steps to put U.S.-Russian relations back on track. Such measures include undertaking unilateral cuts in the nuclear arsenal, adhering to the ABM treaty, and refraining from expanding NATO membership to former Soviet states before 2005. Concurrently, the United States should actively promote Russia?s democratic and economic revitalization with the long-term vision of the country?s integration into Western economic, political, and security structures. It can achieve this by increasing democracy aid to Russia and advancing the country?s early entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"The theme of the report is renewal," says Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment. "It is not based on some feel-good optimism about Russia?s future. It proceeds rather from a measured assessment of the terrain." The report notes that a Cold War mentality, especially on the security front, remains an impediment to U.S.-Russian relations. It also recognizes the critical juncture in the relationship between the two countries, given the recent leadership transition in Russia and the ongoing one in the United States. Although U.S.-Russian relations have been deteriorating in recent years, positive change is possible.

The report covers core security issues, problems in Russia?s southern periphery, and ways to promote the country?s long-term democratic and economic renewal. In these areas, the new U.S. administration should:

On core security issues --

  • Undertake unilateral cuts in the nuclear arsenal to the level of 1,000 to 1,500 warheads. This reduction would provide the United States with adequate deterrence and would be undertaken to encourage Russia to respond likewise. This measure is part of a broader nuclear security agenda with Russia that includes replacing the Cold War hair-trigger operational deterrence posture as well as doubling the resources allocated to the dismantlement of Russian weapons and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons and fissile materials.
  • Adhere to the ABM treaty unless the missile-threat environment changes significantly. Major U.S. allies, as well as international powers like Russia, China, and India, all oppose the United States breaking with this treaty in order to deploy a national missile defense system.
  • Refrain from expanding NATO membership to states on the territory of the former Soviet Union before 2005. NATO should work more actively to promote security cooperation with Russia through the Partnership for Peace and identify potential common interests, such as maintaining stability in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and promoting Russian military restructuring.

On problems in Russia?s southern periphery --

  • Adopt a genuine "multiple pipeline" policy on Caspian oil and stop trying to limit Russian participation in its development. The Clinton administration?s pursuit of a single pipeline policy slowed the development of Caspian reserves. The new administration should not block the development of routes through Iran and Russia, which are economically attractive for marketing Caspian reserves.
  • Recognize that while the Russian military has committed numerous abuses in Chechnya, it is not in the interests of the United States or the Caucasus region that the military simply withdraw from the republic. This would risk a return to the anarchy and Islamic extremism of 1996 to 1999. U.S. policy should be focused on trying to reduce the human suffering caused by the war, and to prevent it from spilling into neighboring Georgia.

On Russia?s domestic transformation --

  • Boost U.S. efforts to foster Russian democracy by raising the annual democracy aid budget for Russia from $16 million to $40 million. A large part of that aid should be directed to the further development of the nongovernmental sector?political parties, civic organizations, business associations, and trade unions, not bureaucrats. Increased funds would be generated by decreasing economic aid to Russia by 50 percent.
  • Limit U.S. economic assistance by encouraging Russian expertise rather than the insertion of American consultants into the country. Economic relations should focus on trade and investment. In this respect, the United States should advance Russia?s entry into the WTO. Currently, Russia appears unlikely to join the organization before 2004.
  • Promote the rule of law in Russia without blindly mirroring American laws, practices, and institutions.
  • Support higher education and training by allocating U.S. funds to high-quality universities in Russia and the former Soviet states and to students from those countries for graduate and postdoctoral study in the United States.

An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations is a product of the Carnegie Endowment?s Washington, D.C.-based Russian and Eurasian Program, a diverse and bipartisan group of experts. The following persons contributed to it through writing or discussion: Anders Åslund, Thomas Carothers, Thomas Graham, Stephen Holmes, Andrew Kuchins, Anatol Lieven, Michael McFaul, Martha Brill Olcott, and Jon Wolfsthal. The full text of the report, as well as the webcast and transcript of the related press conference, will be available on the Carnegie Endowment web site at