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Russian-American Relations Symposium: Session Three: The Future of Russian-American Relations

Authors: Igor Yurgens, Chairman, Institute for Contemporary Development
Richard R. Burt, Managing Director, McLarty Associates
Stephen E. Biegun, Vice President, International Government Affairs, Ford Motor Company
Carla Anne Robbins, Deputy Editorial Page Editor, New York Times
January 22, 2009

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This session was part of the CFR Symposium on Russian-American Relations, which was made possible through the generous support of BP.

Analysts of Russia policy mostly agree that relations between Washington and Moscow deteriorated markedly during George W. Bush's second term as president. Disagreements over how to approach Iran divided the countries, as did Washington's push to establish a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, despite the Kremlin's protestations. Conflicts in Russia's near abroad, particularly those involving Georgia, Ukraine, and Kosovo, rubbed tensions raw between Bush and his Russian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. And more recently, disagreements over energy policy have further fueled a sense of mutual distrust.

Now, with Barack Obama and Medvedev having replaced Bush and Putin, some experts see reason to hope for a new, less fractious era in U.S.-Russia relations. A panel of experts, moderated by the New York Times' Carla Robbins, discussed the prospects for a thaw at this CFR meeting. They examine whether trade-offs might logically be made on policy sticking points like Iran and the missile shield project. They also debate whether it would be a good idea to include Russia in NATO, among other questions.

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