It's time for Washington to pursue a partnership with Russia

Together, the United States & Russia have a unique opportunity to build a partnership that would benefit both countries as well as the rest of the world.

Senate Resolution 122, A resolution reaffirming the importance of United States alliances and partnerships, was introduced into the U.S. Senate on March 18, 2021. Later discussed within the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the resolution calls upon US policymakers to re-affirm their commitment to US allies. The resolution provides a broad overview of past US alliances during the 20th and 21st century and the beneficial effects it has on US national security interests— particularly with the US-Japan alliance and the US-NATO partnership. Despite the resolution’s call for necessary action to retain relationships with existing US allies, the text is overwhelmingly shadowed by its denunciation of the Russian Federation. Initiated by Senator James Risch (R-ID) and co-sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the message expressed through the S.Res.122 augments the anti-Russian or “Russophobia” rhetoric circulating on Capitol Hill and further decreases the chance of a future Russia-U.S. alliance.


Key Provisions

  • Asserts that the United States has successfully relied on alliances, partnerships, and treaties with “like-minded” countries to promote security, political, and economic interests — dating back to the American Revolution.

  • Specifically, the resolution declares the importance of the US-Japan, US-South Korea, and US-Australia alliances in the Indo-Pacific regional security structure, while also complimenting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for its collaboration with the United States.

  • Charges the Russian Federation with a disruption to the international system in the past decade and for its “aggression” in Eastern Europe.

  • Demands a replacement of the 2010 Strategic Concept— a NATO-US security scheme that advocates cooperation efforts between Russia and the US, while also promoting diplomacy as a means of developing transparency and dialogue between the two countries.

Implications

The Senate resolution initiated by Senator James Risch (R-ID) rightfully proposes new strategies to reinforce the United States’ existing alliances yet takes a hardline approach when discussing the Russian Federation. The resolution is also assertive on China, specifically labeling China’s power projection capabilities, power tactics, and relationship with US allies in the Indo-Pacific region. Strategies to deter future Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region include collaboration with US allies such as the Philippines, Australia, South Korea, and Japan on developing next-gen technologies and improving technological security standards. Unlike the Chinese specifications in S.Res.122, the description of the Russian Federation and the United States strategy towards the nation is immensely broad. The resolution simply states Russia is “aggressive” and provides no basis for their accusation. The “aggressive” description of Russia in S.Res.122 further distributes the anti-Russia narrative among US policymakers and lacks the necessary analysis to back the claim.


Another concern of S.Res.122, as it relates to the future of Russia-U.S. relations is the request to modify the 2010 Strategic Concept plan. The 2010 Strategic Concept is a NATO initiative that outlines the collective security plans of member states. In regard to the Russian Federation, the Strategic Concept frames its strategy on the basis of dialogue and engaging in fields of cooperation. The plan commits to “enhance the political consultations and practical cooperation with Russia in areas of shared interests, including missile defense, counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, counterpiracy, and the promotion of wider international security.” NATO’s 2010 concept also promotes the potential of the NATO-Russia Council, which largely enhances dialogue and transparency between the two.


In section 13 of page 22, the Senate resolution calls for the disbandment of the 2010 Strategic Concept and proposal to develop a new security approach with Russia. While re-thinking a strategy to address arising national security issues is imperative, especially as it relates to China’s troubling meteoric rise, it’s important to note that Russia-U.S. relations are at their best when interacting on diplomatic actions and through cooperation— as outlined in the 2010 Strategic Concept.


Instead of taking a strong-armed approach to Russia, we should focus on the success of Russian-American cooperation over the past decades and the potential of future collaboration on issues like nuclear nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and climate change. Together, the United States and Russia have a unique opportunity to build an alliance based on shared interests that benefit both countries as well as the rest of the world. It's time for Washington to pursue a partnership with Russia.


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