The US-Russia Forum, organised by the American University in Moscow and the Russian Association of International Cooperation, took place in Moscow on the 8th and 9th September. Around a hundred representatives and journalists from the US, Russia, Germany Finland and Denmark attended the forum billed “Advancing a Constructive Agenda for US-Russia Relations.”

The main message expressed at the Forum was that the USA, Europe and Russia should focus their efforts on creating “peace and prosperity in all of the Northern Hemisphere from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”

President of RAGA (Russia and America Goodwill Association), Vladislav Krasnov, stated: “Our guiding symbol should be neither the Russian double-headed Eagle, nor the American Bold Eagle, not any other European bird of prey. For better or worse, all of them are birds of prey. We should not project belligerence to any country.”

The waste of global resources was discussed as well as the current situation in the Ukraine and it was concluded that priorities need to be altered on both sides.

A day of discussions took place at President Arbat Hotel on the 8th September and the following day the forum was moved to MGIMO the prestigious Moscow State University of International Relations, the chief incubator of Russian diplomats. Gilbert Doctorow, an American business leader also representing RAGA, had proposed to “recreate the Committee on East-West Accord which managed to keep the nuclear-armed MAD antagonists talking and soothing the US-USSR relations during the worst years of the Cold War.”

The Forum adopted Doctorow’s proposal on the basis that he would “pay special attention to all peace-loving practicable initiatives of business, culture, educational and artistic communities and grass-root groups from the USA, Europe and Russia.”

Some experts have been comparing current US-Russia relations to the Cold War. Doctorow said: “In recent weeks the question of whether we have a new Cold War has ceased to generate much controversy: it is accepted as a fait accompli, a fact of life.  At the same time, nearly all our journalists remind their audience that the present confrontation between Russia and the West is the worst crisis since the end of the original Cold War in 1989.”

There is no denying that US-Russia relations have suffered in recent times. Russia is too big and resourceful to completely disregard or, in fact isolate, as Barack Obama once suggested.

It has, on the other hand, been mentioned that perhaps the current situation involving IS may bring the US and Russia closer together. After a ceasefire in the Ukraine this could be a possibility considering how both the US and Russia have been directly threatened by militant Islamists. However, this would of course depend on no further escalation in the Ukraine.

The US and Russia see IS as a mutual enemy. The US suffered the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and Russia experienced attacks involving Islamist groups based in North Caucasus. It is in the national interests of both countries to defend themselves against the threat of international terrorism.

As mentioned in the Forum, the current threat from terrorism must be seen as a priority and poses an ever-growing problem to national security of both the US and Russia. Rather than working against, the two countries should work together.

“We should stress not the differences of which there are many but commonalities between us,” Krasnov said. “When I travelled across the States as a contract interpreter for US Department of State with various groups from the Former Soviet Union, everybody liked best the state symbol of Louisiana, the Pelican the Provider who teaches the needy how to fish. I am convinced that the Bird of Europe, no matter how united or divided, will not stop being a bird of prey. Nor will it fly very far unless it relies on both of its wings, its Western extension, the USA, and its Eastern extension, Russia” he said.

At the end of the Forum Krasnov presented his book titled Russia Beyond Communism: A Chronicle of National Rebirth to Eduard Lozansky, President of the American University in Moscow, thanking him and his wife Tatiana for their efforts to better US-Russia relations. “It came out as part of a series of publications of the Center for Contemporary Russian Studies founded by Professor Nicolai Petro at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. At the time when the best and the brightest of the West were beholden to Communism and Gorbachev’s half-hearted reforms, we wanted to introduce Americans to a new emerging Russia that is neither the extension of the Soviet Union, nor recreation of Russian Empire, but a new political, social, spiritual and economic entity that has more in common with the USA and EC than with either the USSR or Russian autocracy” said Krasnov.




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