By: Ambassador Daniel Fried
What is the kernel of the issue?
In US relations with Putin’s authoritarian, aggressive, and adversarial Russia, what place is there for bilateral US-Russia cooperation—within an overall U.S. and transatlantic policy of pushback against Russia—without compromising US interests, values, and friends?
Why is the issue important?
A core principle for the entire Russia portfolio: The US and its democratic allies need to set the terms for relations, and not allow Putin to set conditions for cooperation that should be in both sides’ interests.
What is the recommendation?
The US and its allies should resist Kremlin aggression, while also seeking to stabilize relations to avoid unwanted or dangerous clashes. But stability does not mean abandoning our principles or our friends. So, we should support Ukraine’s sovereignty and European future, and democracy in Belarus, and respond to Putin’s repression at home through outreach to Russian society. Cooperation? Sure: in the short-term: arms control (extension of New START), military-to-military talks, and initial dialogue on emerging weapons technologies such as hypersonics. Other areas of potential cooperation: North Korea, Iran, future pandemics, climate change and, maybe, China. Economic cooperation as well, when the Kremlin makes that possible by not killing dissidents and attacking its neighbors. Push back now and work for better days.