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Strategic Dialogue between Russia and USA

Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan

Russia remains the world’s biggest state with enormous natural resources and a huge arsenal of non-conventional weapons.

The leaders of Russian Federation and the USA are trying their levels best to restart strategic dialogue between the two countries. Recently, Barak Hussian Obama visited to Moscow and met with his counterpart Dmitry Medvede and discussed on many important regional and global issues. Some strategic experts say that it is paradigm shift in the US foreign policy while others term it style over substance. Many political scientists predict that it is the restart of new great game in the Central Asia region.

Joint Deceleration

Both the leaders exchanged their views about the threats of nuclear proliferation. They showed great concerns about its expected misuse by any terrorist group around the world. They agreed to take all possible measures to secure the world from the disaster of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear proliferation

(a) Prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
(b) Stop of nuclear terrorism
(c) Enhancement of nuclear security
(d) Continuous upgrading of nuclear security apparatus, materials, equipment and technologies
(e) Broaden and deepen long-term cooperation to further increase the level of security of nuclear facilities around the world, including through minimization of the use of highly-enriched uranium in civilian applications and through consolidation and conversion of nuclear materials.
(f) Reaffirmation of commitment to dispose of existing stockpiles of weapon-grade materials that are surplus to defense needs consistent with our obligations under Article VI of the NPT.
(g) Both sides remain committed to executing the agreement between the government of the United States of America and the government of the Russian Federation Concerning the management and disposition of plutonium designated as no longer required for defense purposes and related cooperation to dispose of 34 metric tons each of weapons-grade plutonium in the United States and Russia. The parties recognize that successful implementation of their respective programs will be subject to future appropriation of funds.
(h) Both sides show commitment to the nuclear security initiatives begun in 2005, to include the repatriation of spent highly-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel. Russia and the USA will jointly and together with other nations work to return research reactor HEU fuel under the agreed-upon schedule, as a practical implementation of nuclear nonproliferation objectives.
(i) Secure and to eliminate excess stocks of proliferation-sensitive nuclear materials worldwide.
(j) Cooperation on development of new types of low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel for possible conversion of research reactor cores in third countries and on conducting feasibility studies to explore possibilities for conversion of such individual reactors in the United States and Russia.
(k) Improvement in the existing level of nuclear security and to combat existing and emerging threats, further improvement in physical protection systems at nuclear facilities. We will continuously improve physical protection, accounting and control of nuclear materials and radioactive substances and qualifications of professional staff.
(l) Extension of bilateral cooperation in nuclear security,
(m) Strengthening the ability of other nations to carry out their weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation obligations under UNSCR 1540.
(n) Expansion in the capabilities to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and radioactive substances at the borders of our countries.
(o) Promoting confidence in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and in addressing proliferation threats,
(p) Expand opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation to strengthen the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the international safeguards system.
(q) Share a common vision of the growth of clean, safe, secure and affordable nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
(r) Development of prospective and innovative nuclear energy systems
(s) Research into methods and mechanisms for the provision of reliable nuclear fuel cycle services
(t) Research into international approaches for the establishment of nuclear fuel cycle services to secure the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime
(u) Improvement of the international safeguards system

Military Cooperation

Both the sides agreed for the resumption of US-Russia military cooperation, the creation of a new joint government commission, and an exchange of information on prisoners of war.

Moscow’s Six No’s

According to many research studies Russia has been pursuing a clear-cut policy toward the U.S which is given below as:

a) No to NATO enlargement that includes Georgia and Ukraine.
b) No to USA military bases in the central Asia countries
No to U.S. missile defense in Europe
d) No to a robust joint policy designed to halt the Iranian nuclear arms and ballistic missiles program
e) No to the current security architecture in Europe
f) No to the U.S. dollar as reserve currency and the current global economic architecture Western-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank. During the recent G-8 meeting Russia proposed the creation of new global currency.


The strategic dialogue between the two countries had different highlights which are given below as

(a) Afghanistan

The highlight of the summit, of course, was the supply route for NATO which Russia had opposed in the recent past. The two countries showed their commitment to jointly work together to help stabilise Afghanistan, including increasing assistance to the Afghan army and police, and training counter-narcotics personnel. Both the countries will work together with the international community for the upcoming Afghan elections and they will help Afghanistan and Pakistan work together against the common threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.

(b) Eastward Expansion of NATO

The next highlight of the Russia-USA summit was to develop better understanding and establish functional working relations between the Russia and NATO. Russia desperately wants America to recognise it as a regional power that dictates policies in the Caucasian region, Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia. To show its muscle, Russia got Kyrgyzstan to close America’s Manas air base in last May.

(c) Soft stance towards Ukraine and Georgia

There has been foreign policy difference on the issue of Ukraine and Georgia between the two countries. During this summit Russia and the USA agreed not to interfere in the domestic geo-political and geo-strategic dynamics especially the issue of Ukraine and Georgia. Russia wants to uphold its geo-political and geo-strategic influence in the region and needed soft stance from the US on it. The US may therefore have agreed to soft stance on the Ukraine front, and policy rollback in Georgia but afterwards, visit of the vice president of the US indicated that strategic differences and priorities still exist.

Strategic Development

The summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev produced an agreement that will let the NATO-US forces fly their troops and weapons across Russian territory to Afghanistan. The agreement allows 4,500 US military flights annually over Russia at no extra charge is supposed to be new beginning between the two old rivals. It is seemed that agreement will enable the United States to further diversify the crucial transportation routes used to move troops and critical equipment to re-supply international forces in Afghanistan and successfully fight against Talban.

(d) Shift from the Bush era

The joint declaration of the Russia-USA summit also indicated that finally foreign policy shift from the Bush era happened. The transit route issue has clearly forced the Obama administration to step back from the Russia policy of the Bush administration, signalled by the Moscow summit’s new agreements on nuclear arms cuts and replacement of a key disarmament treaty, including figures for reduction in nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years.

Importance of Pakistan

Many regional security experts are of the opinion that restart of strategic dialogue between the Russia-USA has lessened the geo-political and geo-strategic importance of Pakistan. Furthermore, start/opening of new route supply from Russia has decreased Pakistan’s leverage in the region and especially our role as important non-NATO ally. According to a fair judgment, Pakistan still holds its pivotal position to fight against terrorism and moreover, win war against Talban in Afghanistan. Pakistan should and must rethink and reframe its foreign policy towards Russia.

Geo-Strategic Issues

(a) Poland Missile Base

The ballistic missile defense (BMD), system that the United States has slated for Poland the Russia-USA summit. Russia has already showed its concerns about the installation of missile base in Poland as security threat that may start new cold war between the two countries. It represents the U.S. use of Polish territory for strategic purposes, and it is something the Russians oppose. The Russians hoped to get Obama to follow the policy at the summit that he alluded to during his campaign for the U.S. presidency: namely, removing the BMD program from Poland to reduce tensions with Russia.

(b) Iran’s Nuclear Program

The increasing socio-economic bilateral cooperation and geo-political & geo-strategic collaboration between Russia and Iran has raised doubts in the minds of policymakers of the USA. Iran nuclear program is a strategic matter for the United States. The US does not want to see Russian support, and particularly arms sales, to Iran. Given that, the Russians do not want to close off the possibility of supporting Iran. This important issue was not discussed in the summit too.

Practical outcomes

(a) The US did not agree to withdraw the BMD system from Poland at the summit. Washington did not say that removal is impossible, but instead delayed that discussion until at least September, when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Moscow.
(b) A joint review of all of the world’s missile capabilities was established at the summit, and this joint review will consider Iranian and North Korean missiles. The Polish BMD system will be addressed in that context. In other words, Washington did not concede on the point, but it did not close off discussions. The Russians accordingly did not get what they wanted on the missiles at the summit; they got even less of what they wanted in the broader strategic sense of a neutralized Poland.
(c) The Russians made no pledge to join in sanctions on Iran, nor did they join in any criticism of the current crackdown in Iran. The joint military exercises between Russia and Iran showed the other ways of creating regional equilibrium.
(d) NATO seeks collaboration with Russia, not confrontation. It reiterated the old U.S. position, which was that NATO expansion was between NATO and individual nations of the former Soviet Union. Russia was more interested in having the United States freeze its relations with other former Soviet states at their current level. Russian sources indicate that they did indeed get reassurances of such a freeze, but it takes an eager imagination to glean that from Obama’s public statement.

The recent Russia-USA summit also showed the basic differences between the foreign policies of both the countries.


a) Stabilizing the international economic order and system
Stabilizing Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq
c) Containing catastrophic terrorism everywhere
d) Preventing proliferation of WMD
e) Restoring U.S. status and capacity to lead in key areas of international affairs

Russian Federation

a) Successfully cope with the ongoing global economic recession and financial crunch
b) Balance of geo-political and geo-strategic equilibrium in the region and lessen the role and influence of the USA and NATO
c) Securing Russia’s voice as a major power among major powers and an equal participant in shaping the international power politics.
d) Maximizing Russian’s economic, political, and security role in the post-Soviet space and CIS countries.
e) Preserving stability in the former Soviet Union countries space, particularly where instability threatens Russia’s internal stability.



a) US wants independent, autonomous, democratic or democratizing states in the post-Soviet region open to unimpeded external economic engagement.
b) It wants a strong, enlarged NATO especially eastward to Russia
c) Secure substantial edge in conventional and nuclear capability and also have an arms control regime
d) Axis of evil and rogue regimes change or be changed.
Stresses values (democracy, human right, freedom of press, and expression) as key dimension.

Russian Federation

a) Russia wishes dominant influence and a droit de regard in the former countries of the Soviet Union
Accepts a global role of NATO but in its region
Seeks to constrain areas of strategic innovation, such as weaponization of space and missile defense
d) Opposes resort to force as a means of regime change at least, in the case of axis of evil and rogue regimes
e) Opposes intrusion of values issues.

Basic differences


a. It attaches highest priority to preventing proliferation of nuclear arms to regimes such as Iran and North Korea.
b. It approaches the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program, global terrorism and the conflict in Iraq.
c. It is likely to reconsider missile defense only on technical and economic grounds, not the opportunity costs in U.S.-Russian relations.
d. It supports multiple energy supply lines out of the CIS
e. In China policy, neo-containment figures in the policy dialogue
It seeks to isolate regimes seen as destabilizing in international politics and overtly hostile to U.S. interests.
g. It has a different conception of the global terrorist threat and assigns global terrorism the highest priority.

The Russian Federation

a. It regards preserving and strengthening the NPT regime as important
b. It approaches the challenge posed by Iran nuclear proliferation, but also energy, Central Asia, arms sales, etc.
c. It terms missile defense as legitimate, but only if collaborative and on a basis acceptable to Russia (and China).
d. It wants to monopolize energy supply lines out of CIS and former Soviet-Union.
e. In China policy, pursues an alignment strategy.
f. It wants good relations with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and Syria
g. It has its own definition of terrorism, terrorist and thinks of terrorism in regional terms, and assigns the larger global threat a lower priority.

Concluding Remarks

It is a new beginning between the two countries. The levels of distrust and disharmony are larger than life. Gradual process of harmony, diplomacy, dialogue, cooperation, collaboration and political commitment would pave the way of greater regional and global geo-political and geo-strategic peace in the days to come. Let us hope that world may not be easy prey of cold war again and both the countries work jointly for the generations to come. There should be policy realization in Pakistan to reestablish good friendly bilateral

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