RUSSIA IS INDISPENSABLE TO OUR INTERESTS
Although some countries are more important on specific issues, none, not even China or any ally, plays on a greater range of U.S. foreign and security interests than Russia. Russia is indispensable to our interests in strategic stability and nonproliferation; it is important to our goals in Europe, the broader Middle East, Northeast Asia, and the Arctic, in energy security and climate change. Along with other powers, it has a central role to play in combating international terrorism, transnational crime, and similar threats. We can cooperate, or we can work at cross-purposes, but we cannot ignore one another. As a general rule, we will be better off if we can find a way to cooperate with Russia at an acceptable cost.
Construct the Missing Framework
U.S.-Russian relations are now a laundry list of issues and grievances outside a strategic framework that places both countries in the broader flow of global developments, identifies common opportunities and threats, relates issues to one another, and sets priorities. Any effort to create sustainable constructive relations must begin with the construction of that missing framework. That task cannot be left to the bureaucracies in both countries. They cannot think boldly, creatively, or holistically about relations as each agency or department pursues goals on a narrow set of issues within its purview. It is the task for a group of senior officials or former officials, working directly under the auspices of the two presidents, charged to move beyond day-to-day and tactical considerations to a broader vision of how each country could advance its own long-term interests by helping the other advance its strategic goals.
Thomas E. Graham is a Senior Director at Kissinger Associates.
This post is part of the Perspectives on Peace and Security: Rebuilding the U.S.–Russia Relationship project produced by Carnegie Corporation of New York.