Interview with Nikolai Petro

Nikolai Petro, Politics Professor at the University of Rhode Island, spoke to RT about the possible future relations between Russia and the U.S. in view of the expiring terms of both countries’ presidents.

Russia Today: Presidents Vladimir Putin and George Bush have met once again. With both of them leaving office soon, how do you see the future relations between Russia and the U.S.? Any chance they'll arrange another meeting in the near future?

Nikolai Petro: I think the relationship between the two countries has been fairly stable in recent years. But I also think it has been slowly deteriorating. As both presidents are going out of office, I think there’s a certain lack of energy, a lack of steam and new ideas. There are a lot of things that still need to be resolved. The leaders are sort of putting things on a distant burner as a new team will obviously be coming into power in both countries.

RT: One of the corner stones in their relationship is U.S. missile defence plans – do you think they'll reach consensus in the near future?

N.P.: I am not terribly optimistic. Particularly if Republicans stay in office there is a verbal commitment of every one of the potential presidential candidates to insist on the American placement of these missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland.  I suppose it is a possibility for some of the Democratic candidates, but it really depends who eventually will be the leader among them.

RT: WTO accession was another issue the two leaders discussed – Russia is hoping to get membership in the first half of 2008. How realistic do you think it is?

N.P.: The negotiations have been going on for 14 years and it’s high time for the world’s largest economies – and certainly the world’s fastest growing economies like Russia – to be a member of the World Trade Organization. Its absence indeed serves as a reminder of all the things that need to be changed in international financial institutions. Having said that, I think the mechanism is so difficult to regulate that the deadline may come and go without progress having been made.