Stent Talks Future, US Resets With Russia
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 03:02
Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies Director Angela Stent discussed the future of U.S.-Russian relations Wednesday, as covered in her new book, “The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century.” The talk, held in Copley Formal Lounge, was moderated by professor Charles King and attended by approximately 60 people, most of whom were graduate students or professionals.
Stent covered the numerous “resets” which have been a hallmark of U.S.-Russian relations in recent years. Stent said that there were resets in the relationship under presidents Bill Clinton (SFS ’68), George W. Bush and most recently Barack Obama. The most recent reset was decidedly more tempered and practically focused. However, she emphasized that even the Obama reset had its troubles. Stent read a selection from her book regarding a humorous story from 2009 in which a mock reset button was given to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the word “reset” written in English on one side and in Russian on the other. However, due to a translation mistake, the Russian word did not read “reset,” but instead read “overload.” Such humor was laced throughout the talk, drawing a number of chuckles from the crowd.
Obama’s U.S.-Russian relationship reset over the past few years has been largely successful, according to Stent. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, agreements on Iran sanctions, cooperation on transportation to Afghanistan and Russia joining the World Trade Organization are evidence to the productivity of the two nations’ solid partnership.
Still, Stent cautions that the strategy inherent with a reset is also rife with weaknesses.
“That reset was largely driven by the personal ties between President Obama and then-President [Dmitry] Medvedev,” Stent said. “That relationship was built by two younger, post-Cold War men. Once Prime Minister Putin returned to the Kremlin, the relationship began to deteriorate.”
Additionally, Stent talked about the legacy of the post-Cold War experience in Russia. Americans and Russians experienced the 1990s in starkly different ways, as the American economy surged while the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving the nation with a lack of leadership and direction. A “legacy of mistrust” bred in the aftermath of World War II remains between the two countries even today, despite recent democratic advances in Russia.
A question and answer session followed the lecture, with questions ranging from the Russian perception of U.S. power to the current crises in Syria and the Ukraine, the rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia, the proposed Eurasian Union project and prospects for greater inclusion of Russia in the international system.
Attendees, both Russian and American, enjoyed the presentation.
“Over the past 20 years, hundreds and hundreds of books have been written on U.S.-Russia relations, but pretty much nothing in the past five years,” Sidar Global Advisors employee Igor Danchenko said. “One of the reasons is [that] everybody focuses on U.S.-Russia relations rather than Russia-U.S. relations.”
A Georgetown student in attendance voiced her takeaway from the discussion.
“I thought it was really interesting to not only hear Dr. Stent’s research about the U.S.-Russia relationship, but also to see the common threads that have carried throughout, and where they might be going,” Anjelika Deogirikar (GRD ’14) said.