Rus­sia and US can work to­gether to solve cri­sis

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE -

MIKHAIL PETRAKOV

RUS­SIA-US re­la­tions have been in the lime­light for a while. Dur­ing the last year, at the twi­light of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, we all wit­nessed a well-or­ches­trated cam­paign of ac­cu­sa­tion against Rus­sia, al­leg­ing its in­ter­fer­ence in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The lack of any ev­i­dence or proof did not pre­vent the me­dia or many Amer­i­can politi­cians and bu­reau­crats from pre­sent­ing th­ese un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tions as ir­refutable truth and facts, thus whip­ping up anti-Rus­sian sen­ti­ments.

The Rus­sia-US dia­logue has been ham­pered by ag­gres­sive sys­temic at­tempts to con­tain Rus­sia, which in­cluded the build-up of sanc­tions pres­sure through the il­le­gal and uni­lat­eral re­stric­tive mea­sures the US gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced, the de­ploy­ment of Bal­lis­tic Missile De­fence com­po­nents, provoca­tive mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties on Rus­sia’s western bor­ders and in the Black Sea, among other mea­sures.

In re­sponse to th­ese ac­tions, Rus­sia chose to work to con­vince its Amer­i­can part­ners to nor­malise our dia­logue, settle old prob­lems in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, such as the ab­duc­tion of Rus­sian cit­i­zens by US se­cu­rity ser­vices in other coun­tries and vi­o­la­tions of rights of adopted Rus­sian chil­dren in the US. We did not re­tal­i­ate against the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hos­tile and dis­grace­ful act – the ex­pul­sion of 35 Rus­sian diplo­mats and their fam­i­lies right on the New Year Eve (What a won­der­ful gift to their chil­dren!) – leav­ing the mat­ter for con­sid­er­a­tion with the new Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The aim of our for­eign pol­icy is to build friendly re­la­tions with our part­ners based on equal­ity, mu­tual ben­e­fit, re­spect and tak­ing into ac­count each other’s in­ter­ests.

We do not in­ter­fere in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of other na­tions or take sides in their po­lit­i­cal do­main – this prin­ci­ple has been a pil­lar of our for­eign pol­icy for many years, and was re­it­er­ated in the new­est edi­tion of Rus­sia’s For­eign Pol­icy Con­cept signed by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Novem­ber 30 last year.

Dur­ing the US elec­toral cam­paign Rus­sia has re­peat­edly stated that we are pre­pared to work with any demo­crat­i­cally elected US pres­i­dent.

By the end of last year, due to the dam­age done by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion we found our­selves at the low­est point in our cen­turies’ long re­la­tion­ship with the US.

To un­der­stand where we are in terms of re­la­tions at the be­gin­ning of this year, let us look at the out­come of the phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the two pres­i­dents, which took place on Satur­day.

Vladimir Putin con­grat­u­lated Don­ald Trump on tak­ing of­fice and wished him ev­ery suc­cess in his work. Both sides ex­pressed their readi­ness to make joint ef­forts ac­tive to sta­bilise and de­velop Rus­sia-US co-op­er­a­tion on a con­struc­tive, eq­ui­table and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial ba­sis.

The two lead­ers em­pha­sised that join­ing ef­forts in fight­ing the main threat – in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism – is a pri­or­ity. The pres­i­dents spoke out for es­tab­lish­ing real co-or­di­na­tion of ac­tions be­tween Rus­sia and the US aimed at de­feat­ing Is­lamic State and other ter­ror­ists groups in Syria.

Putin and Trump also dis­cussed in de­tail a wide range of press­ing in­ter­na­tional is­sues, in­clud­ing the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East, the Arab-Is­raeli con­flict, strate­gic sta­bil­ity and non-pro­lif­er­a­tion, the sit­u­a­tion with Iran’s nu­clear pro­gramme, Korean Penin­sula is­sue, and the main as­pects of the Ukrainian cri­sis. Both sides agreed to co-op­er­ate in th­ese and other ar­eas. They stressed the im­por­tance of re­build­ing mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial trade and eco­nomic ties be­tween the two coun­tries’ busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties.

Trump said the Amer­i­can peo­ple had warm feel­ings to­wards Rus­sia and its cit­i­zens. Putin em­pha­sised the feel­ing was mu­tual. The two lead­ers agreed to main­tain reg­u­lar per­sonal con­tacts and gave in­struc­tions to work out a pos­si­ble date and venue for their meet­ing.

Ob­vi­ously, our coun­tries can work to­gether to lift Rus­sia-US re­la­tions out of the cri­sis.

Re­turn­ing to the track of co-op­er­a­tion ben­e­fits not only Rus­sia and the US but the rest of the world as well, given the im­por­tance of both our na­tions in mat­ters of global peace. As Putin said: “We are ready to do our best to im­prove re­la­tions in the in­ter­ests of our peo­ple, world se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity.”

Our aim is to build friendly re­la­tions

Mikhail Petrakov is the am­bas­sador of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion to the Repub­lic of South Africa

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