U.S. and Russian elites meet in Washington

The 200-year-old relations between Russia and the U.S. are being discussed in Washington. Russian and U.S. lawmakers, businessmen, and political experts look at how they could tackle the issues currently dividing the two nations.

The participants have gathered for the 26th annual World Russian Forum on Capitol Hill.

“The co-operation that is now going on in my view is very solid. It’s going through a period of testing at the moment in terms of the political relationship between the U.S. and Russia, which I hope will be improved, and certainly want to see that happen. So, I think you can say basically that I hope that we are at the nadir and everything else will be up,” said Thomas Pickering, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

Recent disagreements over the planned missile shield in Central Europe, Kosovo, and NATO expansion have led to increased tensions in the U.S.- Russia relationship. In a move to mend ties with Russia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Moscow.  Konstantin Kosachev, the Head of the Russian State Duma Committee for International Relations says the visit comes at an opportune moment."

“I hope that this meeting will contribute to a better understanding between our two countries because I do not believe that the national interest of Russia and the United States of America contradict each other, we have completely the same interests in the field of combating international terrorism and solving frozen conflicts,” he stated. 

Despite the stepped up rhetoric from the two capitals, experts say that co-operation focusing on mutual values is important.

“There is a list of key issues that Washington sees as important. There is a list of issues that Moscow sees as important. The ones we disagree upon have some impact on the broader relationship. But I think that both capitals are for the most part able to look at each issue individually and make a judgment of where their interests are,” believes Andrew Kuchins from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This year’s World Russian Forum is dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Russia and the U.S. The relationship has had its many ups and downs, and the participants of this forum hope that the new ideas generated here will reverse the recent negative trend in the relationship.