Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Group Urges Repair of Russian Relations

WASHINGTON -- The United States should seek Russia's close cooperation in dealing with Iran and solicit Moscow's participation in, or at least acquiescence to, a missile defense system in Europe, a panel of former high-level U.S. diplomats and members of Congress urged on Monday.

Calling for across-the-board repairs to a splintered relationship with Russia, the commission took note of some recent positive trends.

But the panel warned that they "are deeply concerned by the gap between the current U.S.-Russian relationship and the level of cooperation that the United States needs with Russia in order to advance vital American interests."

The commission, headed by former senators Chuck Hagel, a Republican, and Democrat Gary Hart, is a joint project of the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of Harvard University.

Describing current relations as "deeply troubled," the commission said, however, that Moscow is not hostile to the United States, "at least not yet."

Even if the relationship breaks down completely, Russia does not have the will or the resources for a new Cold War, the report said.

Both governments are to blame for the decline, the panel concluded. Rebuilding the relationship "is not solely the responsibility of the United States," the report said.

The commission proposed that the administration of President Barack Obama "take a new look" at proposed U.S. missile deployments in Central Europe and concentrate instead on cooperation with Russia in confronting any threat from Iran.

A recent private letter from Obama to President Dmitry Medvedev reportedly broached recasting the proposed missile defense system to allay Russian concerns in return for Moscow's aid in dealing with the Iranian threat to build nuclear weapons.

"Building a joint system that could include Russian facilities and equipment is most desirable," the report said.

The United States has a strong interest in attracting Russia's cooperation. Key U.S. allies would prefer such an approach, and "it would send a powerful signal to Iran" while avoiding new dangers from a possibly hostile Moscow reaction to deployment of the missile defense system without an understanding with Russia, the report said.