WASHINGTON, November 30—While the reset in U.S.-Russia relations has led to significant security accomplishments, less progress has been made on improving Russia’s commitment to democratic reform. Rather than linking U.S.-Russia cooperation to Moscow’s human rights record or ignoring undemocratic practices, Washington should emphasize how the Kremlin’s actions affect concrete American interests in order to reduce differences on issues of transparency, rule of law, and human rights between the two countries, write Matthew Rojansky and Ambassador James F. Collins in a new paper.

Key Findings and Recommendations:

  • Remind Russia of its voluntary commitments. The United States, Europe, and multilateral institutions should insist Russia follow international rules and norms it has freely agreed to, such as the Charter of Paris and the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Support U.S. citizens and companies abroad. The United States should insist on legal protections for American entrepreneurs and investors participating in Russia’s modernization campaign, and insist Russia follow U.S. rules in the American market.
  • Tell Russia its actions risk a backlash. The Obama administration should remind Russia that its political repression and economic abuses will turn off Americans and limit U.S. ability to further engage 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 delinking Russia’s domestic policies from the U.S.-Russia relationship," Rojansky and Collins write.



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Matthew Rojansky is the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment. An expert on U.S. and Russian national security and nuclear weapons policies, his work focuses on relations among the United States, NATO, and the states of the former Soviet Union.

James F. Collins, director of the Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Program, is an expert on the former Soviet Union, its successor states, and on the Middle East. He was the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation from (1997–2001).

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

Press Contact: Kendra Galante, 202-939-2233, pressoffice@ceip.org