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9/13/03 - THE U.S. AND RUSSIA - 2003-09-15

With the Cold War long since ended, many people talk about moving to a “multipolar world.” But, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, “there need be no poles among nations that share basic values. . . . Indeed, we must work to overcome differences, not to polarize them”:

“We work hard to have the best relations with nations large and small, old and new. But it is important that we concentrate on those major powers, and especially on those with which we have had different and difficult relations over the years.”

One such country is Russia. The U.S. relationship with Russia has been dramatically transformed in the past decade and a half. In Moscow, said Mr. Powell, “we have a committed partner in fighting terrorism and in combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction worldwide.”

Russia has joined with the U.S. and other members of NATO to share intelligence on terrorism and to deal with humanitarian and peacekeeping tasks. Mr. Powell said this “would have been absolutely unthinkable just fifteen or so short years ago”:

“We are closer than ever, with this new relationship with Russia and the other former republics of the Soviet Union, we are closer than ever to a Europe whole, free, and at peace -- a Europe that definitely includes Russia, a Europe that will not in this century face the kinds of challenges that were faced in the century past.”

Today, Russia is moving toward a market economy and developing democratic institutions. But, said Mr. Powell, the U.S. and Russia, “do not agree on everything”:

“Earlier this year, we had hoped for a more supportive Russian attitude toward our Iraq policy. We still hope for more change in Russia’s attitude toward the Iranian nuclear program. And we differ over aspects of Russian policy in Chechnya.”

But what is important, said Secretary of State Powell, is that the U.S. and Russia “now have the necessary level of trust required to solve even the most difficult issues that exist between us.”