Russian-US relations get warmer?
Wednesday was a busy day in Washington D.C. as the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee discussed improving Russian–American relations with two hearings held on Capitol Hill.
In one room antiballistic missiles were discussed. The gathering ruled that Russia is not the only obstacle to these plans as Lieutenant General O’Reilly mulled over the economic and technological bumps in the road as well.
The next room gathered US lawmakers for an overview of cooperation between Russia and the US. The general tone here was to welcome a brighter future.
Howard Berman, the chairman of the committee, said that the countries’ shared goal should be improving the relations and bolstering cooperation over Iran.
Some congressmen have also proposed dropping the Jackson-Vanik amendment – brought in during the Cold War – which limits trade with Russia.
Not everyone seemed ready for such a scenario, however.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has never missed an opportunity to talk about Russia – either on gas disputes, supplying arms to Syria and North Korea, or alleged human rights abuses – had something to say this time as well.
“We cannot continue to support such integration, however, if it serves to spread corruption and destabilization in the regions neighboring Russia and lying on its periphery,” she said.
This time, Ros-Lehtinen enlisted the help of former Russian official Andrei Illarionov who was brought in as an expert. Mr. Illarionov made Ros-Lehtinen sound positively moderate with his doomsday scenarios.
“We know that a full retreat or surrender will get not peace, but war. A war with unpredictable and nasty results,” he warned.
Despite his best efforts, Illarionov’s war mongering rhetoric didn’t seem to convince many in the audience.
“We are not going in the right direction with our relationship [with Russia] and there is no reason why now the United States cannot be best friends with the Russian people and the Russian government,” said Representative Dana Rohrabacher.
America is trying to move forward instead of dwelling on mistakes of the past. At the same time, in its annual human rights report, the US Department of State accuses Russia of serious shortcomings in human rights.
The report said that the political power in the country is continuously centralized in the presidency and the prime minister with a legislature molded by unfair elections.
It also blamed Russia for human rights abuses that emerged during the year, especially in the North Caucasus, and decried the deaths of five journalists.