Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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New York Times
November 11, 2001
Bush and Putin: A Crawford Agenda

To the Editor:

William Safire (column, Nov. 8) notes that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has seized the opportunity presented by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to build a special relationship with the United States.

At the Bush-Putin meeting in Crawford, Tex., the purported compromise on national missile defense and missile reduction will give each side what it has been wanting. The issue of NATO is less clear: Russia indicated interest in joining NATO, but a NATO that would become a political rather than a military organization.

We must make sure that support for the antiterror campaign is not bought by our acquiescence to Russian policy toward Chechnya and Russia's pressure on Georgia. What we can do is construct a framework for relations in which the issues that we dispute do not disrupt those ties.

We should begin negotiations to forgive the Soviet-era debt, and we should also move forward on Russia's candidacy in the World Trade Organization.

Cambridge, Mass., Nov. 8, 2001

The writer is a research associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University.

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