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    'Azerbaijan’s influence will continue to be a significant factor in the long-term stability and security in Eurasia'  
     Dr. Sharyl Cross on air at Azeri.Today 

      04 Июля 2017 - 12:28 

        366   



      Azeri.Today interviews Dr. Sharyl Cross, a Global Policy Scholar at the Kennan Institute Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and Director of the Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward’s University in Austin.

      - A meeting of the presidents of the United States and Russia is planned at the G-20 summit, which will be held in early July. What are your expectations from the first meeting between Trump and Putin?

      - Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he seeks an improved relationship with the United States.  President Donald Trump suggested several times during his campaign and after assuming office that he would like for the United States and Russia to develop a more constructive relationship, particularly to cooperate in countering terrorism.  The United States and Russia share several common security interests in arms control, nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, managing regional conflicts, and more.  The US-Russia relationship is critical for both nations and global security.   However, Donald Trump faces considerable bipartisan pressure in Congress over allegations of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election making it quite difficult for the US President to move a security agenda forward with Russia.  Therefore, though this is a new Administration and it can difficult to predict Donald Trump’s next actions, given domestic pressures one should not expect too much from this first meeting. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for a “pragmatic approach” in this meeting, and President Trump has signaled that he would like to discuss Syria and Ukraine and to have deliverables or concrete results.  Discussing options for managing the North Korean threat is likely to be on agenda. The optics for this first Trump-Putin meeting will be quite important, and the personal rapport or interaction in the encounter between the two men will be viewed with wide domestic and international attention and interest.

      - Why did the relationship between Moscow and Washington reach an impasse? What are the causes and contradictions?

      - Unfortunately, the legacy of the Cold War era of confrontation still plays a major role in the US-Russian bilateral relationship.  It is difficult for many on both sides of the Atlantic to move beyond the image of the other as a rival, competitor, or even enemy.   Also, rather than Russia assuming the role as a co-equal with the United States as initially anticipated in the period following the collapse of the USSR, Russia suffered from diminished power status and capacity to decisively influence international developments.  Many in Russia believed the United States took full advantage of Russia’s weakened position during the 1990sespecially by enlarging NATO and intervening in Bosnia and Kosovo. The two countries have continued to clash over a range of issues during the past two decades including further advancement of the NATO Alliance toward Russia’s borders, recognition of Kosovo’s independence, allegations of western instigation of colored revolutions, wars in Iraq and Libya, conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine, suspicions regarding US involvement in the Arab Spring uprisings, perceived US desire to see regime change in the Russian Federation, and many other areas.  Persistent differences over a host of geopolitical interests have contributed to a deficit of trust between the United States and Russia.  Russia does not accept the rules and values of the western liberal international order and prefers to establish an independent pillar apart from the West for influencing global developments.  Vladimir Putin has not been reluctant to challenge the United States and its allies disrupting the existing rules and norms of the western order in promoting Russia’s interests.

      - Russia is nervous about NATO’s expansion and enlargement to Russian borders. Will this lead to an open clash between Russia and NATO?

      - We certainly hope not as such an open clash between NATO and Russia could be catastrophic, and both sides should be committed to avoiding such a confrontation.  Russia and NATO should be cooperating in addressing emerging transnational security challenges.  The NATO-Russia Council was not perfect, but at least served as a viable forum for discussing common security interests and differences and strengthening practical areas of security cooperation between Russia and the West.  In the aftermath of the conflict over Ukraine, Russia-NATO cooperation has broken down and we are now in a period of resurgent and potentially quite dangerous and destructive NATO-Russia tensions.  NATO nations and Russia are devoting resources to re-militarizing borders.   The Article V commitment would mean that any attack on a NATO member willprompt a collective response from the Alliance, and the Kremlin understands thatmilitary action directed against any NATO member country will cross a threshold that does not exist for non-NATO member nations such as Georgia and Ukraine.  At the same time, the potential for Russian and NATO clashes in the airspace over Syria or the frequent “buzzing” of aircraft and naval vessels could lead to accidents that might escalate with serious consequences.  It is important to maintain open channels of military-to-military communication between Russia and the United States and NATO particularly during this time of heightened tensions.  It is imperative that both sidesunderstand and agree on the rules or red lines.  During the Cold War, the rules were quite clear to both sides, but today the circumstances are ambiguous and uncertain in many respects which could lead to miscalculation and escalation of conflict in ways that neither Russia or NATO nations would desire.

      It is obvious that a European security community that excludes Russia will not lead to a more secure and safe continent.  We were on a positive trajectory both in the West and Russia in working toward a common or shared security community for Europe, and all national leaders would be wise to direct their focus toward thinking about how we could return to that place.  We need those in positions to make decisions with the long-term vision to realize that we must develop robust cooperative networks among reliable partner countries to have any hope of meeting the daunting security challenges that NATO and Russia will face in the decades ahead.  It is a serious mistake to allow circumstances to deteriorate to a point of returning to an East-West confrontational frame of reference dividing the European continent and consuming resources in ways that will not benefit our societies.

      - What place does the South Caucasus occupy in Washington’s policy? How will the US-Azerbaijan relations develop? Should we expect the US to play a more active role in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict around Karabakh?

      - Azerbaijan has been an important partner for the United States and its allies particularly in the areas of energy, trade and investment, providing military cooperation and transit support and assisting in promoting joint initiatives toward countering terrorism and extremism.  Azerbaijan’s influence will continue to be a significant factor in the long-term stability and security in the South Caucasus, wider Eurasia and the Middle East.  It will be important for Washington to work with the European Union and NATO to remain engaged with Azerbaijan in cultivating economic and security ties.Again, the Trump Administration will have todeal with many other competing domestic and international concerns.  Unless Russia or regional actors undertake dramatic actions to upset the existing status quo, frozen conflicts in Eurasia are likely to remain unresolved in the immediate future.  Certainly the United States has an interest in preventing an escalation of hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia which could entail further losses and adverse consequences for both nations and potentially escalate into a wider conflict.  The United States should not rule out the possibility of trying to engage Russia in the effort to manage conflict flashpoints in the South Caucasus as one important area of a broader comprehensive bilateral security agenda.

       

      Источник: Azeri.Today

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