Can the CIA resuscitate U.S.-Russian relations?

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Can the CIA resuscitate U.S.-Russian relations?
Published 27-01-2021, 07:28
Nowadays, when something bad happens in America, the popular game in Washington is to make bets on how fast Russia and Vladimir Putin will be accused of being responsible. Therefore, it was no surprise to hear exactly that about the Jan. 6 events on Capitol Hill.

Nowadays, when something bad happens in America, the popular game in Washington is to make bets on how fast 

In 2014, Ms. Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, oversaw U.S. efforts to encourage a violent street insurrection in Kyiv that was far deadlier than 1/6 and to appoint members of post-coup Cabinet while using expletive rhetoric toward our European allies over their lack of enthusiasm for anti-Russia sanctions.

It’s reasonable to ask how Ms. Nuland’s return to Foggy Bottom in an even more powerful position can ameliorate the current crisis with Russia or restore U.S.-EU relations supposedly ruined by Mr. Trump.

Let’s remember that Mr. Obama made Mr. Biden a point man in Ukraine and that the results with him at the "head of the table” were dismal. Add to that Mr. Biden’s commingling of foreign policy with his family’s business in Ukraine, which even many State Department officials have criticized.

If one looks at the list of other Biden Cabinet nominations, there are hardly any folks who might encourage the president to avoid a looming disaster. 

The one exception may be former Deputy Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William J. Burns, who was nominated for the post of director of the CIA.

That agency usually is not known for promoting world peace, but Mr. Burns was also a president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and, in the words of a retired clandestine services officer and former Moscow CIA station chief Daniel Hoffman, "Burns knows Russia inside out, has been immersed in Russian language, culture and history — and that will be critical to Biden.”

I recall Mr. Burns, as a keynote speaker in April 2009 during one of our U.S.-Russia forums on Capitol Hill, indicating several areas where the U.S. and Russia could work together to rebuild the bilateral relationship. Unfortunately, only two of these ideas have been implemented.

First is the New START treaty reducing and limiting strategic offensive nuclear arms.

This treaty was signed on April 8, 2010, in Prague and entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011. It is due to expire in a couple of weeks, but it looks like both countries may be moving in the right direction to extend it. This would be the correct move. A second one was Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

All other projects proposed by Mr. Burns in 2009, including the Obama-Medvedev Commission to search for mutually beneficial cooperation in many other areas, were nonstarters because of the events in Libya, Syria and, especially, Ukraine.

At the end of his speech, Mr. Burns said something that is relevant today: "While the challenges are complex and demanding, it is vital to get U.S.-Russia relations right. … It is up to the rest of us, both in and outside of government, to translate that agenda into practical results.”

Who knows — with Mr. Burns as CIA chief, might that spy outfit earn a Nobel Peace Prize? It would look great in a display case at the CIA Museum in Langley. 

Unfortunately, the museum is not open to the public but can be accessed online.

Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow, Professor of Moscow State and National Research Nuclear Universities. He is the author of the book "Operation Elbe”, which describes joint US – Russia anti-terrorist efforts.

 

The Washington Times

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