Russia and US can work together to solve crisis
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