U.S.-Russia Relations

A. Official Documents and Declarations
     I. Background
        1. The United States 
        2. The Russian Federation 
     II. Economic Relations
        1. International Organizations 
        2. Bilateral Assistance Programmes 
B. Speeches
C. Parliamentary and Inter-Parliamentary Reports
D. Research Studies

A. Official Documents

I. Background

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States were the main protagonists in the confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The two countries considered each other to be their main enemy. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the relationship between Russia and the US has undergone substantial changes. Both countries today publicly define their relationship as a "strategic partnership", a largely vague term presumably intended to obscure dissensions within this relationship. Indeed, US-Russian interface is characterised by different approaches to international security and an enormous difference in economic strength. 

This section outlines the approaches of the United States and the Russian Federation towards each other. It will present a number of documents containing the general guidelines for bilateral relations with a focus on the security dimension, but regards the economic dimension as well. 

For further information about relations between NATO and Russia, please refer to the following category: 

1. The United States of America

1.1 George Bush Administration (1989-1993)

The administration under US President George Bush Sr. tried to establish a new relationship with the Russian Federation based on the above-mentioned concept of a "Strategic Partnership". Bush and Yeltsin held their first meeting following the dissolution of the Soviet Union at Camp David in December 1991, which resulted in a joint declaration stating that the two countries no longer "regarded each other as potential adversaries."  The second joint declaration states the common point of view that "defense conversion is a key challenge of the post Cold War era and essential for building a democratic peace". 

See relevant excerpts of the declarations of the two Bush-Yeltsin summits: 

  • Joint Declaration, 1st summit, Camp David, February 1st, 1992
  • Joint Declaration on Defense Conversion, 2nd summit, Washington, June 17th, 1992
  • For statements of G. Bush and B. Yeltsin, see Speeches

    1.2 Bill Clinton Administration (1993-2001)

    The administration under US President Bill Clinton searched for new fields of cooperation. The Russian Federation was confronted with several serious problems, such as a dramatic decline in economic and political strength and secessionist movements on its own territory. Accordingly, the Clinton Administration's aim was to support Yeltsin both politically and economically in order to avoid reactionist tendencies within the Russian Federation. During the first stage of this policy efforts were directed at ensuring nuclear safety within the region, and later expanded into areas such as economic, scientific and educational cooperation. 

     The following excerpts from official documents describe the U.S. approach to Russia: 

    A number of political declarations and statements were also produced at the Clinton-Yeltsin summits, such as the Vancouver Declaration of April 4th, 1993 or the Moscow Declaration of January 15th, 1994. Russia stressed its commitment to democracy, rule of law and market economy while the United States reaffirmed its support for the reforms in Russia. 

    Russia and the United States agreed in three statements on European Security: 

    On June 3-5th, 2000, U.S. President B. Clinton and Russian President V. Putin held a summit in Moscow, which did not produce any breakthroughs. The statements issued deal with proliferation and disarmament issues. It should also be noted that the idea for a U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan was developed. Both presidents were concerned how to deal with the Taliban support of narcotics production and terrorist activities. US-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan: See also the Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, adopted at the Clinton-Putin meeting in the context of the G8 summit in Okinawa on June 23rd, 2000. 

    1.3 George W. Bush Administration (since January 2001)

    The administration under George W. Bush is still in the process of defining its policy towards Russia. Tensions between the two countries have arisen because, in contrast to the Clinton administration, Bush displays a clear preference for unilateral approaches to international relations. Asserting national strategic and economic interests are at the top of the administration's list of priorities, while adherence to multilateral conventions are increasingly regarded as obstructive to the accomplishment of U.S. policy goals. 

    Not many official documents concerning U.S. policy on Russia have been released by the Bush administration. The first two meetings held between Presidents Bush and Putin only produced a Joint Statement about establishing Russian-American business dialogue, which is reproduced under Economic Relations. In the wake of the incidents of September 11th, 2001 and the following campaign against terrorism, attempts of the two administrations to foster cooperation increased. The first product was the Joint Statement on Counterterrorism issued at the APEC-summit in Shanghai on October 21st, 2001.
    On the first stop of Putin's visit to the USA, the two presidents issued a number of joint statements on the state of U.S.-Russian relations, transborder crime, bioterrorism, Afghanistan, the Middle East and the mutual economic relations (reproduced in II.2.):

    See the section Speeches for transcripts of the press conferences with G. W. Bush and V. Putin following their meetings.

    The next summit will take place in Moscow and St. Petersburg on 23-26 May 2002. It is called upon to enhance Russia-USA coordination on key international problems, including questions of disarmament and nonproliferation and the joint struggle against terrorism, and expand bilateral cooperation in various fields.

    While the U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan remained as formal and without detailed agreements as during Clinton's term, the terrorist strikes on September 11th, 2001 definitely changed the conduct. This is due to the accelerated engagement of the U.S. in the country of concern, i.e. Afghanistan and the mutual agreement of both states to fight terrorism. The latter also resulted in a broader discussion of terrorism in the February 2002 Session in Washington.

    2. The Russian Federation

    2.1 The Boris Yeltsin Administration (1991 - 1999)

    The U.S. policy to the Yeltsin administration can be divided into two different periods. Initially, Yeltsin tried to integrate Russia into the Western community. This was done for two reasons: Firstly, the country was dependent on Western financial support. Secondly, Yeltsin personally needed Western backing because he was engaged in a power struggle with both communist and nationalist movements. The Basic Provision of the Military Doctrine of November 2nd, 1993 stems from this phase of the Yeltsin Administration. Notably, this document states that the Russian Federation regards no state as its enemy. 
    In 1996 there was a paradigm shift in Russian foreign policy, which was based upon the notion that national interests should take pre-eminence over Russia's integration into the West. In this second phase of the Yeltsin administration, Russia started to define a vision of a multipolar world order, which was subsequently consolidated under the Putin Administration. 

    2.2 The Vladimir Putin Administration (since 2000)

    The three core Russian foreign policy documents adopted at the beginning of Putin's tenure present the vision of a multipolar world, with Russia exerting a strong influence on its "near abroad" - the former members of the Soviet Union. In the future, Russia also sees itself playing a major role in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. 
    The National Security Concept of January 10th, 2000 concludes that a strategy of unilateral action has a destabilising effect upon international security. It explicitly criticises the unauthorised use of force by NATO against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and by a US/UK coalition against Iraq. Russia denounces them as an infringement upon international law which endangers international security. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Russia has declared that it regards the United States' unilateral acts as a major threat to the position of the Russian Federation in the international system, and even to its national security. 
    With regards to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the National Security Concept points to the dangers of proliferation. However, it does not exclude the use of nuclear weapons in the case of a strike against Russia with non-nuclear WMD. This provision can be seen to be in line with NATO's Strategic Concept of November 1991, which did not - in contrast to the London Declaration - explicitly exclude the first use of nuclear weapons. 

    For the official Russian perspective on relations with the U.S., see relevant excerpts of the 

    II. Economic Relations

    The U.S. intends to encourage the strengthening of democracy and economic stability, particularly through the implementation of a functioning market economy in Russia. Many U.S. enterprises also see Russia as a source of profitable investment opportunities. So it is worth taking a glance at how the U.S. tries to positively influence Russian economic development, primarily through international financial institutions and bilateral cooperation. 

    1. International Organisations

    While its economic strength permits the U.S. to greatly influence the politics of international financial institutions, the Russian Federation strongly depends on their financial support. At the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, the U.S. has 17.49 % of total votes, whereas Russia has only  2.76 % of total votes. No state donates more resources to the IMF than the U.S., and no state receives more reserve assets from the IMF than Russia. The situation repeats itself in the World Bank: the number of votes is distributed according to the quantity of contributions. As such, the U.S. controls 16.95% of total votes, while Russia controls only 2.8 %. 
    Although IMF and the World Bank observe a positive economic development to have occured within Russia in the last 18 months, this present situation is not predicted to change in the near future. 

  • IMF: Financial Position in the Fund: Russian Federation and United States
  • World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development): Country Briefing Russia, April 2001 
  • 2. Bilateral Assistance Programmes

    Two treaties are central to U.S.-Russian economic cooperation: the first one is the Agreement on Trade Relations which entered into force in 1992. It aims at improving access to their respective markets, the expansion and promotion of trade and more active business co-operation. 
    An institutionalised framework for bilateral economic co-operation was set up as a result of successful cooperation during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. In their Vancouver Summit declaration of April 1993, the Presidents founded the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. As it was chaired by Vice-President Al Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, it is generally known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin-Commission. Its original mandate was to advance cooperation in the areas of energy and space, but it soon expanded to cover business development, defence conversion, the environment, science and technology, health, and agriculture. Various programmes of assistance were funded by the U.S.. For further information about bilateral cooperation, please see annual reports of U.S. Government assistance to and cooperation with the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union.

    B. Speeches

    C. Parliamentary and Inter-Parliamentary Reports
    • Russian Capital Flight, Economic Reforms, and U.S. Interests: An Analysis, CRS Report, 10 March 2000 

    • Based on the premise that economic stability and political stability are causally related, this report outlines pros and cons of US options to encourage and influence economic reforms in Russia. It concludes that in the end, whether Russia undertakes sufficient economic reform to develop a functioning market economy (and thus decreases the possibility of Russia as a national security threat to the US) will mainly be determined by Russia alone.

    D. Research and Policy Reports