Tags: US | Russia | Ivanov | Harman

Igor Ivanov Eyes US-Russian Relations

By    |   Monday, 13 Oct 2014 07:55 AM

Against a news background dominated by campaign debates, former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who held the office twice, under Presidents Yeltsin and Putin, discussed the current state of U.S.-Russian relations recently at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

The program was titled "Russia and U.S.: Is a Real Partnership Still Possible?" Ivanov served the Soviet Foreign Ministry extensively in Spain and chaired the conference that produced the Dayton accords, which settled the conflict between Serbia and Bosnia. He now works for The Moscow Times and is also professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

The presentation promised to be interesting because it was advertised as critical of both sides but offering a "positive vision" of future relations between the two countries. The U.S. and Russia have been sparring for years as some former Soviet states have sought closer ties with the West while others have reinforced their relationship with Russia, some of them even going so far as to express nostalgia for Stalinist times.

Ivanov was introduced by the CEO of the congressionally chartered Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former centrist Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who was on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In introducing Ivanov, Harman lamented the demise of the student exchange program with Russia and the closing of McDonald's there, which had enjoyed a five-star rating in Moscow.

Harman referred to Henry Kissinger as a "good friend" and cited Kissinger's warning in the Foreword to Ivanov's 2002 book, The New Russian Diplomacy, that troubled times were on the horizon for U.S.-Russian relations. She characterized the current state of the relationship as possibly the worst since the end of the Cold War. She stressed the value of maintaining a working diplomatic relationship "even and especially when states don't see eye to eye."

Jill Dougherty, public policy scholar with the Center and formerly with CNN, led the discussion. Dougherty began by recalling Ivanov as a "moderate, fair and tough diplomat" in the days she covered him from Moscow, then turned to exploring what steps could be taken to improve the relationship, which she said at this point "doesn't seem very hopeful" and "extremely bad right now." She asked Ivanov to assess blame for the current state of affairs.

In response, Ivanov said that when in office and faced with problems in international relations, he always asked himself first what he could do to address the problems. He concluded that "all sides are guilty" of causing the current state of affairs, for example, by trying to push Ukraine either to the West or the East. He called this behavior "a big mistake from both sides," and Ukraine is only the most recent example of such mistakes.

Ivanov listed a number of American policies he could blame for harming relations, beginning with NATO enlargement and anti-missile defense, but the West could also point to Russian policies, and he suggested the circumstance be managed through dialogue and understanding.

He lamented that even during the Cold War, relations never deteriorated to the point where the two side didn't speak, whereas today "we don't have dialogue at a high level" or at the institutional level. He expressed hope that with the governments not interacting effectively, non-governmental organizations and the civil society can serve to conduct the dialogue necessary to improve relations.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Against a news background dominated by campaign debates, former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who held the office twice, under Presidents Yeltsin and Putin, discussed the current state of U.S.-Russian relations recently at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
US, Russia, Ivanov, Harman
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2014-55-13
Monday, 13 Oct 2014 07:55 AM
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