u.s.-russia relations
August 5, 2020

More than 100 foreign policy experts — including former White House officials in Reagan, (both) Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump administrations — laid out six proposals for how the United States should alter its relationship with Russia in an open letter published by Politico on Tuesday.

The letter calls for squelching Russian interference in U.S. elections, while also engaging with Moscow about the matter through negotiations "out of the public square." Another top priority, the signatories believe, is for the White House and Congress to restore "normal diplomatic contacts" with Russia after several were shuttered following the Crimea invasion in 2014. "Too often we wrongly consider diplomatic contacts as a reward for good behavior, but they are about promoting our interests and delivering tough messages," the letter reads.

The other ideas include taking on a dual leadership role with Moscow in nuclear arms control, focusing on "three-way cooperation" between Washington, Moscow, and Beijing, and emphasizing that even in areas of genuine disagreement between the countries — like Ukraine and Syria — "measured and phased steps" are key to improving the "overall relationship."

Finally, the letter argues that Washington's sanction strategy needs to change. While, the signatories agree sanctions should remain part of the U.S.'s Russia policy, they need to be more flexible so they can be "eased quickly" should Russia engage productively in negotiations. At the moment, Moscow lacks the incentive to change course even in the face of sanctions, the letter says, because it considers U.S. sanctions "permanent." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

July 9, 2020

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday said reports that Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan are a "downright lie," and "no concrete evidence has been presented" to prove the allegations.

The New York Times first reported on the alleged plot in late June. During a virtual discussion with the Center for the National Interest, a think tank in Washington, Antonov said the intelligence sources behind the report are "trying to create an impression that our country is an enemy of the United States."

He also had sharp words for the U.S. government's decision to withdraw from multilateral arms control treaties, saying this left U.S.-Russia relations in a "deplorable state." His country, Antonov added, is "deeply concerned about the United States actions leading to the collapse of strategic stability."

While it's not known if President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have spoken since the Russian bounty story broke, Antonov did reveal that they had five phone calls in late March and April, all of them positive. "Unfortunately, it is not always possible to implement in practice the constructive tone of the presidents' talks," he added. Catherine Garcia

May 21, 2019

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) revealed on Tuesday that U.S. fighter jets intercepted six Russian warplanes off the coast of Alaska on Monday.

The four bombers and two fighter planes were intercepted by F-22 jets after they entered an area known as the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, NBC News reports. In a statement, NORAD said the Russian planes "remained in international airspace and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace," and the U.S. jets kept an eye on the Russian planes until they left the region.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said the planes were conducting planned exercises, which took place "over the neutral waters of the Chukotka, Bering, and Okhotsk Seas, as well as along the western coast of Alaska and the northern coast of the Aleutian Islands." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet in Paris in November, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday.

Discussions are now underway for the meeting, to take place during celebrations on Nov. 11 marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Putin and Trump last met in Helsinki in July.

Bolton is in Moscow to discuss the U.S. soon withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia has called the step "dangerous," and per a transcript provided by the Kremlin, Putin said to Bolton, "As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the U.S. coat of arms. It holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. My question: Has your eagle already eaten all the olives, leaving only the arrows?"

"I didn't bring any olives," Bolton responded. Putin and Bolton met for 90 minutes, and Bolton said he also brought up "objectionable" election meddling, and why it "was particularly harmful for Russian-American relations without producing anything in return." Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2017

On Tuesday, the House voted 419-3 to pass a bill that strengthens sanctions against Russia in response to its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The sanctions primarily target Russian oil and gas projects with companies based in the United States and a handful of other countries, and they will be difficult for President Trump to lift because he will need approval from Congress. The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote, and could be sent to Trump to sign into law before August, when Congress begins its recess.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the sanctions would be "harmful" to U.S.-Russian relations. The package also includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea, due to their weapons programs. Catherine Garcia

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