Russia, U.S. Finding Their Way to Responsible Management of Relationship

Moscow and Washington are slowly finding their way from sharp confrontation to managing their bilateral relations in a more responsible way, Thomas Graham, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, told TASS.

The US expert commented on a phone conversation on Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden as well as the idea of holding a bilateral summit, proposed by the US.

“The proposed summit to discuss the full range of issues in relations in the near future offered the possibility of, not resetting relations, but rather restoring more normal diplomatic contact —and simple agreement on how to manage that contact would be the main, if not the only, deliverable at a summit,” Graham said.

The expert, who is also currently a senior advisor at Kissinger Associates, Inc., praised the recent conversation between the Russian and US leaders. “Overall, the phone call was an important act of diplomacy, and it was a good sign that the White House and Kremlin readouts were largely in sync and not widely divergent as they were after the first presidential phone call. All this suggests that, despite the heated rhetoric in both capitals, the two countries are slowly finding their way to a more responsible, sustainable management of what will remain a largely competitive relationship,” the distinguished analyst said.

Against the backdrop of Ukrainian crisis

“Although probably left unsaid, that was intended as a clear incentive for Russia not to take any aggressive actions Ukraine,” Graham noted. In his view, “the unfolding crisis in and around Ukraine provided the occasion for the phone call between President Biden and President Putin.”

“The United States would clearly like to see a deescalation in the tension. And one way to encourage that was to put US-Russian relations in a broader context and suggest that some improvement was possible,” the analyst noted.

“To be sure, Biden reiterated his firm intention to defend American interests against what he sees as malign Russian actions and underlined the United States “unwavering” commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Doing that was critical to maintaining public support for his Russia policy. But Biden also laid out the areas where he thought the United States and Russia had overlapping interests and could cooperate,” he pointed out.

Talks in a third country

US President Joe Biden in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin suggested holding a top-level in-person meeting in a third country in the foreseeable future. The presidents expressed readiness to continue the dialogue on key areas of ensuring global security, the Kremlin said in a statement. “Biden voiced interest in normalizing the state of affairs on the bilateral track and establishing stable and predictable cooperation on such acute problems as ensuring strategic stability and arms control, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Afghanistan and global climate change,” it said.