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Position on Some Important Strategic Issues of Russian-American Relations

Moscow, July 7, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I am grateful to you for your invitation to the meeting and in behalf of the Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO I would like to welcome you in the capital of Russia.

The YABLOKO party is the oldest party in the post-Communist Russia. It was founded in 1993 and has been always in opposition to authoritarian trends in the Russian policy and has been standing for radical improvement of the Russia-US relations. Russias partnership and cooperation with the United States and the European Union, building of common understanding of the fundamental principles of Law and human rights on this pan-European political space, non-admission of a military stand-off within it have always been our major programmatic precepts.

Members of our party, without resorting to self-advertizing, have always been heavily investing into the achievement of results in the development of the Russian-American relations.

To be in opposition, as you know, is always hard. Especially it refers to such country as Russia with the consolidated authoritarian regime. The heritage of the totalitarian system is still strong and wont be overcome in the nearest future. These are really hard and tragic problems which do not lie in the schematic plane of the opposition of old and new or within the scope of personal responsibility of an individual. Everything is much more complicated and dramatic.

The destiny of the world greatly depends on the choice major states of the planet will make. Well try to do our best that Russia should make a European-type choice, so that it would be a choice of freedom.

We would like to see you in Russia again. Russia is not just Moscow. Russia encompasses quite different regions and all of them, people inhabiting them, need a genuine and productive cooperation with the United States.

Dear Mr. President, on behalf of Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko let me present you The Position on some important Strategic Issues of Russian-American Relations.

Sergei Mitrokhin,

Chairman of the United Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO

Position on Some Important Strategic Issues of Russian-American Relations

1. The Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO is the oldest party in post-communist Russia. It was founded in 1993 and has been always consistently opposing authoritarian trends in Russias politics and advocating radical improvement of Russian-American relations. The partnership and cooperation of Russia with the United States and the European Union, building of common understanding of the fundamental principles of Law and human rights on this pan-European political space, removal of military confrontation within it, have always been the key goals of our program from the very beginning.

2. The end of the Cold War marked a new stage, rather than was the end of the story. The key developments at this stage may be described as emergence of a broad political and cultural diversity on the world political arena instead of confrontation of the two systems. Russia and the USA are countries with different political systems. From our point of view the prospects of our relationships lie in step by step convergence, rapprochement and cooperation. A lack of strategic vision both in the USA, the European Union and Russia as regards the global and the European political architecture of the 21st century represents one of the main barriers in the way of efficient cooperation.

3. We advocate comprehensive cooperation between our countries in a maximally broad range of issues and clear and coherent vision of Russias perspective as an integral part of the international democratic community. However, Russia has not got from the West a single proposal on real comprehensive strategic cooperation in the past twenty years, since the end of the Cold War. Strategic relationships with Russia deamnd that the USA should revise the practice of local short-term projects that create unnecessary problems in our relationships.

4. We presume that efforts targeted at significant improvement of understanding of each other, first of all of the Russian realia, would be a right step here. Keeping this goal in mind it is necessary to create a system of common political standards and political norms that would allow us to remove different interpretations of the same events or mutual accusations in double standards and lack of sincerity.

5. We think that the most important task of the Russian-American relations at present should be reaching agreements on the program of creation of a joint Ballistic Missile Defense system. From our point of view, the beginning of serious negotiations between Russia and the USA on creation of a joint European and eventually a global BMD is an important and efficient method of enhancing the nuclear non-proliferation regime and getting concessions from the countries that violate the decisions of the UN Security Council. In fact the greatest goal of these countries is maintenance of controversies between Russia and the USA on the BMD issue. Such an approach would be considerably more important and efficient than some technical parameters of a unilateral American BMD system. In our view, it would be important for the USA to demonstrate its maximum flexibility on this issue in negotiations with Russia. We are emphasising this not because our party holds an absolute priority and a political copyright for the concept (we were the first to propose it as early as in 1999). We are stating this because we are certain that today it is the most important factor for our cooperation in international security.

6. We support the initiatives of the US President formulated in his speech in Prague on revival of the nuclear disarmament idea. However, it is well-known that these initiatives have been met with great distrust in Russia. Partially this distrust comes from those who have been traditionally resisting good relationships between Russia and the USA. However, there are also people who have been extremely disappointed with the US policies on these issues during the past eight years. In our view, it is important, that from now on declared political positions should be consistent with practical steps of their implementation. Unfortunately, both the sides have often failed to demonstrate this so far. Therefore, it would be important for the USA today to achieve understanding with Russia on considerable reduction of strategic warheads and strategic delivery vehicles. We think that the present attempts at preservation of a large number of missiles by means of transfer of warheads to the depots and conversion of missiles submarines and bombers into high precision conventional weapons is inappropriate. This is a matter of trust between our two countries. We proceed from the fact that broad-scale military and political cooperation is of greater importance than the number of US remaining missiles and warheads.

7. As regards Afghanistan, in our opinion, the security interests dictate that here positions of not only Russia and the USA, but also of an absolute majority of the countries of the region coincide. However, the matter should not be confined to the military transit for NATO in this region. We have to develop a common vision of Afghanistans future. Then we shall be able to discuss not only transit of US military cargoes, but a much broader range of issues of cooperation between Russia and the USA here.

8. Certainly, there are prerequisites for full-scale cooperation, as both Russia and the USA largely belong to the European culture and civilization. The tragedies of the 20-th century have split our world, however, the policies of the 21st century have to bring it together again on the basis of shared values. This requires much effort, but the result is worth it. The good will of our society (rather than a historys whim or a blind chance) made possible the deconstruction the totalitarian system. This fact demonstrates that freedom and democracy are as important for the Russian citizens, as for the Americans. Whatever complicated situations we have to face in the future, it should be borne in mind that Russians are the people capable of understanding Americans. The main thing which the US President can do here is to try to understand Russia and its people.

Sergei Mitrokhin,
Chairman of the YABLOKO party

See also:

Russia's ABM Initiatives
Russia-US Relations

Moscow, July 7, 2009