Soothing Russia’s Ruffled Feathers

by Laurence Jarvik on 8/19/2004

Rumsfeld met with Ivanov to explain US plans for bases in the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, according to this AP story.

But any plans are far from final, Rumsfeld told reporters while flying home from Russia on Sunday. While there is no chance American troops would be based on Russian soil, Rumsfeld said “they have an interest” in the matter, presumably because some of the countries the United States is negotiating with are former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact states.

“The Russians feel more and more that we are in their backyard. We feel like, well, we need to be there,” said Eugene Rumer, an expert on the former Soviet Union at the National Defense University.

Often the United States and Russia don’t agree, but no one issue appears to dominate the relationship. Thus far, the Bush and Putin administrations have been content to snipe at one another on specific matters, but as a whole they remain cordial.

“The relationship is a good one. It’s one that has been evolving,” Rumsfeld said”

When I met with a Russian political scientist during my year in Uzbekistan, he seemed very upset that America was treating its defeated adversary like a junior partner in international relations, without sufficient respect. What did Russia want? “Not junior partner–full partner!” he replied.

I guess this may be the sort of thing that is being negotiated right now…


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