WASHINGTON – With Vladimir Putin in power again as president of Russia, the US administration must now forge a new relationship with an often difficult leader. Against this backdrop, the Atlantic Council released an issue brief today, “Rethinking the Russia Reset,” which recommends that US policymakers refocus the reset on creating stronger economic ties between Russia and the West, and especially using World Trade Organization (WTO) accession to promote rule of law in Russia. This will require making the reset trilateral, by working more closely with European countries, who bring economic leverage vis-à-vis Russia. But while working to expand economic ties, US and European policymakers should hold Russia to account for its actions in the former Soviet space and its human rights record. 

A version of the brief was published by the Christian Science Monitor today. 

Authored by Atlantic Council Vice President Fran Burwell and Svante Cornell of the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm, the brief stresses the need to expand beyond the arms control agenda that dominated the start of the reset, and instead focusing on extending US-Russia economic ties. The authors encourage the United States to bring in its European partners into a trilateral US-EU-Russia dialogue on a way forward, making the following recommendations for US, Russian, and European policymakers:

  • Collaborate with Europe to help Russia uphold its WTO obligations, and remove barriers to US granting of most-favored-nation status to Russia, including Jackson-Vanik.
  • Prioritize the creation of investment protection and anti-corruption standards in Russia.
  • Encourage Russia to focus on economic modernization and facilitate discussions on how the United States and the EU might assist.
  • Continue to assert the importance of developments in Russia’s human rights and democracy polices.
  • Gradually reengage former Soviet states in an effort to enhance security and resolve regional conflicts, and promote economic growth, along with stronger transportation and communication links, in the former Soviet states.

The issue brief is part of the Council’s Transatlantic Dialogues on Russia, and reflects findings from the series’ latest workshop, which took place in September 2011 with support from the US Army War College.