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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev believes that nothing fatal has happened in relations between Russia and the United States, although the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily wrote in its editorial. “We continue to cooperate in all directions, where we had cooperated before,” Medvedev said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt.
At the same time diplomats do not use the notion of ‘reset’ with respect to relations between Moscow and Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavorv said. He believes that this word cannot mean a long-time process, otherwise this will be already a breakdown.
However, ‘reset’ is not a one-time act. Even diplomats have used this term for a rather long period. This was a process that had lasted for around thirty-six months, the daily recalled. It was set to boost relations between Russia and the United States in a wide range of directions – from disarmament to trade and economy. Civil society relations were their main trend as well. The two countries set up the civil society working group within the framework of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. Aside from this official channel Americans developed non-official direct contacts with representatives of Russia’s non-governmental organizations.
This very direction became a source of contradictions between Moscow and Washington, when the U.S. began to demonstrate its dissatisfaction first with the returns of the parliamentary elections and then with the presidential race in Russia. This generated the corresponding reaction of Moscow. Further march of events has been well known. The countries exchanged retaliatory actions – Russia adopted a law forcing U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations to register as foreign agents, offices of the U.S. Agency for International Development that provided financial support for non-governmental organizations were closed. At the end of last year the United States adopted the Magnitsky Act imposing a visa ban and asset freeze on Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. In retaliation Russia approved a law banning adoptions of Russian children by American families. Finally, at the end of last week the U.S. announced it quitted the civil society working group.
These very changes in the agenda of the Russian-American relations can be considered the end of reset. Nezavisimaya Gazeta wonders whether this will reverse the Russian-U.S. relations as some experts assert. This hardly will happen. Both parties are interested in stepping up relations in many important areas.
The list of global challenges and big international problems remain an important direction of the two countries’ cooperation. It is hardly possible to hope for finding solutions to many of problems, mainly to such as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and concerns over Iran and North Korea, if there is no understanding between Moscow and Washington. Finally, despite certain difficulties the disarmament agenda with offensive and defensive arms has not been exhausted yet.
Russian-U.S. relations feel the need for new initiatives to be put forward. The next Russia-U.S. summit, when U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to visit Russia, may give a necessary impetus to these efforts. Moscow has already sent the invitation, but the date of the visit has not been finalized yet, the daily wrote.