On March 1, 2001, the Endowment's Robert Nurick, Andrew Kuchins, Rose Gottemoeller, Anatol Lieven, and Martha Brill Olcott presented the findings of the new report An Agenda for Renewal: US-Russian Relations at Carnegie's Moscow Center to an audience of distinguished members of Russia's foreign policy community. The report is the result of in-depth discussion and analysis by the Endowment's leading experts and sets out an innovative agenda for the renewal of the US-Russian relationship, based on policies that capitalize on areas of mutual interest and affirm the long-term vision of a Russia integrated into Western economic, political, and security structures. A summary of the presentation and resulting commentary and discussion is presented below.

"We hope the Agenda for Renewal will provoke a constructive debate in Moscow on the prospects for developing US-Russian relations," said Robert Nurick, the director of Carnegie's Moscow Center, in his opening remarks. Andrew Kuchins, the director of Carnegie's Russian and Eurasian program, agreed, adding that the present time is "an important moment to reassess policy." Kuchins noted that finding consensus amongst Carnegie's experts (Anders Aslund, Thomas Carothers, Thomas Graham, Stephen Holmes, Andrew Kuchins, Anatol Lieven, Michael McFaul, Martha Brill Olcott, and Jon Wolfsthal) on the wide-ranging recommendations presented in the report was difficult, but that all the experts agreed on the report's basic findings. Among the report's recommendations are that the United States refocus its democracy assistance program to work more with Russian society rather than with the Russian government, and that assistance be given to strengthen Russia's rule-of-law and renovate the nation's system of higher education.

Rose Gottemoeller, Senior Associate at the Endowment, noted the importance of putting the US-Russian nuclear relationship on new footing at the beginning of President George W. Bush's administration. Among the recommendations contained in the report are to enhance cooperation on strategic stability and threat reduction, replace the Cold War hair-trigger operational deterrence posture to reduce the danger of an inadvertent nuclear strike, and to double the resources allocated to the dismantlement of Russian weapons and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons and fissile materials from the former Soviet Union. National Missile Defense (NMD) remains the most controversial issue between the two nations; Gottemoeller recommended that if such a system were to be built along the lines proposed by the Clinton administration--currently the most technically feasible proposal-the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty should be amended to account for NMD, and not scrapped altogether.

"Many of the existing US policies reflect the paranoia of the Cold War era," said Senior Associate Anatol Lieven. Lieven suggested that the United States move to a more realistic and practical approach to Russia. In particular, Lieven advised that the United States and Russia examine more closely the impact of the expansion of the European Union (EU), and the resulting border tensions between EU and non-EU states, a development which could prove more important than NATO expansion. Carnegie's report recommends that the United States refrain from extending NATO memberships to states on the territory of the former Soviet Union before 2005. Speaking on the current conflict in Chechnya, Lieven noted that while Russia's entry into the conflict could be criticized, it is now more difficult to suggest that Russia withdraw from the area immediately, since this might do more harm than good.

Carnegie Senior Associate Martha Brill Olcott discussed US policy in the Caspian region. The Carnegie report proposes that "the United States move away from reflexive rivalry to real cooperation with Russia in Central Asia and the south Caucasus, including the adoption of a genuine multi-pipeline policy on Caspian oil." Olcott remarked that in terms of strategic importance to the United States, the proven oil reserves in the Persian Gulf are much more vast and vital to US security. One possible area of cooperation with Russia would be to work together to address new security threats in the region, such as the spread of drug trafficking. According to Olcott, the "development of democracy in the region requires stability, and to establish stability, real economic and political reform should be encouraged by the United States."

Asked about the mechanisms the Endowment would use to use to make its proposals known to the new Bush administration, Andrew Kuchins noted that since the introduction of the Agenda for Renewal in Washington on December 7, 2000, the Endowment has utilized articles, conferences, and discussions, as well as personal contacts within the new administration to introduce its recommendations to Washington's foreign policy community-liberals and conservatives alike--and to members of the Bush administration.

Asked about the chances of NATO expansion and the deployment of NMD happening simultaneously, Anatol Lieven remarked that if this were to happen, both processes would be compromised, and US-Russian relations would be seriously harmed. Kuchins noted that the chances of NATO expansion and NMD deployment occurring simultaneously are low, since both will require large amounts of financial and political capital. However, if this were to happen, Kuchins agreed that it would have a severely negative impact on relations between the United States and Russia.

Yuri Davidov, from the Institute of USA and Canada, agreed with the suggestion that it was important for the United States to work more directly with Russian society rather than with the Russian government to promote democracy. However, Davidov questioned whether the report overemphasized security, neglecting economic assistance and reform. Lieven responded that while the question of economic relations remains important for the West, the role of the United States in promoting economic reform will most likely be limited to encouraging trade and investment in Russia and helping Russia enter the World Trade Organization. Rose Gottemoeller remarked that the Bush administration's current emphasis on international security is a welcome development, and that the Clinton and Yeltsin administrations did not do enough to promote nuclear security. Kuchins agreed that "we have not achieved all we had hoped in the past decade in the establishment of nuclear security."
Robert Nurick voiced his agreement with Gottemoeller that "certain core security issues" need attention. Nurick underlined the importance of viewing US-Russian relations in a global context, and of looking in particular at Russian-European relations. "Both the EU and NATO have a set of rules and expectations that are now at the heart of global processes," said Nurick. "We need to examine how Russia will relate to these new rules," he added. Kuchins concurred, noting that "if Russia wants to become a great European power than it should recognize European political, social, and economic standards."

Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of USA and Canada, suggested that the United States has some responsibility to assist Russia's integration into the world market, given extensive work on economic reform in Russia by both the United States and the International Monetary Fund in the past. Inquiring as to the position of Carnegie's experts to this suggestion, Rogov asked what the strategy of the new administration will be with regards to Russia.

Addressing this question, Lieven noted that the current US administration is not unified in its foreign policy vision. Olcott agreed, adding that "foreign policy has its own life," and remarking that Clinton's early approaches to foreign policy were modified, and with time did not represent such the dramatic shift in US foreign policy that he had earlier hoped for. Nurick added that in time, the "effect of reality" will be felt by the Bush administration, and they will adapt their proposals to what is politically possible. "It is very difficult to change relations without trying to change the minds of those on the other side," said Nurick. He concluded that a broadening of the foreign policy agenda to account for the interests of the United States and Russia was the best way to improve relations between the two countries.

Summary prepared by Erik Scott, Junior Fellow with the Russian and Eurasian Program