On April 23, 2015, CGI partnered with the Embassy of the Russian Federation to provide an opportunity for students pursuing IR, national security, and Russia-related studies to take part in an informal discussion with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on key issues of U.S.-Russia relations. Participants included graduate and advanced undergraduate students from American University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of World Politics, as well as young professionals in international affairs.
Following an overview of the Ambassador’s perspective on the current state of U.S.-Russia relations, students posed their own questions regarding his take on the future of Russia’s relationship with the United States, NATO, and the West more broadly. While expressing concern that relations between Russia and the United States are currently at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, Ambassador Kislyak emphasized that throughout history, both countries have been better off when they worked together.
As examples, he shared his personal experiences witnessing the camaraderie of U.S. and Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo, and seeing the joint labor of American and Russian scientists at NASA’s headquarters in Houston. In addition, the Ambassador emphasized the unprecedented cooperation that went into the safe removal of Syrian chemical weapons amid an ongoing civil war in the country. In his view, such cooperation can and should be restored between the United States and Russia, particularly as they move forward with nuclear talks with Iran. Students’ questions to the Ambassador included:
- Moving forward from disputes surrounding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, what are Russia’s main priorities in relations with NATO and its member countries in Eastern and Central Europe?
- Despite the current state of U.S.-Russian relations, is there a future for U.S.-Russia arms control efforts?
- What is Russia’s preferred outcome for the negotiations with Iran, and what role is it playing in the talks?
- How does Russia envision its economic relationship with Europe over the next decade and beyond?
- How does Russia want to be perceived around the world, and particularly in the West? Is it possible to overcome deep distrust and stereotypes where interests do not necessarily coincide (and are constantly presented as conflicting)?