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Russian Experts See Lavrov's Visit To USA As Productive, Positive

File Photo of Sergei Lavrov
file photo
Moscow, 14 July: Analysts interviewed by RIA Novosti believe that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to the USA, which ended today, was productive and quite positive. However, problems such as, for example, Russia's entry into the WTO, cooperation between Russia and the USA in missile defence or the situation in Syria, still require further discussion. However, according to Russian experts, any contacts are always productive, as they help to better know the opinion of the other side and bring the positions closer.

New lease of life

Head of internal political research department of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valeriy Garbuzov said that US-Russian relations, which started to change when US President Barack Obama came to power in the White House, have become rather positive.

"If we look at the preliminary results of recent years, then the most significant outcome were agreements on promoting the new treaty on limiting strategic arms, and intentions to carry on further negotiations in different areas fall well within the so-called reset of our relations," he said.

However, according to Garbuzov, for some time now, and this has been acknowledged by both Russia and the USA, the relations have been stalling a bit and it is necessary to "give them a new lease of life".

Experts believe that this can be done by expanding the agenda of bilateral negotiations and relationships.

"We need to go out beyond the traditional topics of bilateral relations and expand them into other areas - trade, economic and cultural cooperation, and contacts in education," Garbuzov said.

WTO is still not on the immediate agenda

Garbuzov believes that the main problem is the inclusion of our country in international organizations, in particular, the expansion of our cooperation with the WTO and the inclusion of Russia into the WTO.

"The Americans understand our concerns and Lavrov's recent visit is one of the steps to clarify all difficult positions and misunderstandings about the entry of Russia into the organization," he added. Garbuzov is convinced that the Russian foreign minister's visit to the USA is another step towards Russia's accession to the WTO, which "certainly is not going to happen tomorrow, or any time soon, but nonetheless, this issue must be addressed for results to be achieved".

Director of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis Vagif Guseynov is even more pessimistic about the prospects of Russia joining the WTO in the near future.

"Many European countries and the USA will be dragging their feet on this matter as long as possible because competition still exists in this world," the expert said.

"These countries will continue to squeeze addition concessions out of Russia in other areas," he said.

"Judging from previous experience in negotiating this issue, I think in the next few years we are unlikely to advance in this matter," the director of the institute said.

He said that "for many years, our wish to join the WTO is being hampered by new requirements and new commitments but Russia receives nothing in return. Then we refuse to make some concessions and this is used as a pretext to blame us." According to Guseynov, the USA's approach to Russia's WTO accession is not gentlemanly - they do not say "no", but they always put forward new demands and obligations that are not suitable for Russia, he concluded.

Missile defence with prospects for future

The second major problem in relations between Russia and the USA, according to Garbuzov, is the problem of missile defence.

"Maybe the Americans are not very worried about it, but the current US administration is different from others as it has acknowledged Russia's concerns on this matter and is ready to hold talks with Moscow on this issue," he said.

"And negotiations on missile defence will feature in our relations in the near future," the Russian expert said.

"On the eve of the presidential election in the USA, Russian-US relations are not essential for the Americans, but, nevertheless, they are important both in general for the USA and for Obama's administration, as it is accused of weak foreign policy," the expert said. Negotiations with Russia and attempts to include Russia in already existing world structures are perceived by the US conservative circles as a sign of Obama's weakness. "For the US president it is important to show that changes are needed, and this is not a sign of weakness, but a manifestation of realism, which acknowledges modern realities and certain countries' prevailing interests, including Russia's ones," Garbuzov said in conclusion.

Promising notes

Guseynov also said that the topics that were raised and accented by Lavrov in Washington, such as those associated with the UN resolutions on Libya and the situation in Syria, revealed significant differences between the parties.

"As for supplies of arms to Syria, there are significant contradictions: the Americans insist that supplies should be minimal and the Russian side is against these restrictions," he said.

According to Guseynov, "as soon as we accept the Americans' proposals, who supposedly care about maintaining the balance in a particular region, as soon as Russia gives up supplying arms, the gap is immediately filled by the USA itself or other NATO structures". The Russian defence industry is losing orders, and the Russian Federation is losing jobs, he said. However, according to Guseynov, in this regard as well "there were promising notes" in statements made by the Russian foreign minister in Washington.

In addition, according to Guseynov, "the very nature of ongoing contacts between the administrations of President Medvedev and President Obama, and regular working communication between Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State (Hilary) Clinton, regardless of whether their points of views coincide, are the most positive facts and greatest achievements of current relations between the two countries".

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