EWI President and CEO Cameron Munter speaks with Russia Matters director Simon Saradzhyan about U.S.-Russian relations, including issues pertaining to trade, sanctions, Ukraine, accidental nuclear war, a rising China, potential partnerships, Putin as a modernizer and much more.
Simon Saradzhyan (SS): Are there any vital U.S. interests at stake in the U.S. relationship with Moscow? And if so, are these interests advanced by America’s current policies toward Russia?
Cameron Munter (CM): There are vital U.S. interests at stake in U.S. relations with Russia. Some are quite obvious, some are more subtle and long-term. The obvious ones include the U.S. focus on Israel and its relationship with Iran. And Russia’s important role in Syria and in the region means there are issues they have to deal with in common. Similarly, the relationship of the United States with China: This is not a relationship that exists in a vacuum, and is another area in which U.S. relations with Russia really matter. There are longer-term domestic U.S. issues that matter as well—like the arguments about Russia’s alleged electoral meddling. There are also potential economic interests, whether from the energy field or others. So, there’s a wide array of things that I would consider vital U.S. interests at stake. The relationship with Russia is not the kind the U.S. can afford to simply ignore or not pay enough attention to.
SS: In a similar vein, what about EU interests and policies vis-à-vis Russia?
CM: There are at least two important areas where EU countries share interests with Russia. The key one is a concern about the countries to their south. The sources of much of the instability in Europe—whether from migration, or from such issues as Islamic fundamentalism—matter a great deal to the stability and the future of Russia, and to the Europeans. Similarly, they share interests because of Russia’s relationship to Europe as an energy supplier. They share an interest in having a stable relationship and in making sure that some sort of accommodation is reached, whether on Nord Stream 2 or other details. Are these the same interests as the United States has? I would argue yes. All countries—the Europeans, the Americans, the Russians—have an interest in stability, including a stable Middle East. I don’t know if they look at it the same way, and that’s of course a vexing problem. The American focus on Iran is obviously very different than the focus of, say, the French, the British, the Germans or the Russians, but nonetheless, they have that in common.
Click here to read the full interview on Russia Matters.