What Russia needs most: Civil society engagement, not appeasement
Ignoring the worst abuses and empowering authoritarians means betraying our friends in Russia – and undermining US leadership around the world.
The Obama administration’s Russian “reset button” continues to malfunction.
The latest ignominy was a meeting last month between Russia and the United States designed by presidents of both countries to reset relations and explore new opportunities for partnership. Two days after the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Civil Society Working Group’s ineffective meeting, Moscow police dispersed a demonstration to support the right of assembly provided by the Russian Constitution and arrested one-third of the participants.
The US State Department issued a feeble “concern.”
Ignoring the worst abuses and empowering authoritarians means betraying our friends in Russia – and undermining US leadership around the world. Human rights and civil society have to remain part of the bilateral relationship.
Last summer, the Kremlin and the White House created the Commission to expand bilateral cooperation. Two government officials co-chair the Civil Society group (nongovernmental organizations are not members). At its first meeting, it tamely discussed child abuse, corruption “in the US and Russia,” and “fighting mutual stereotypes.”
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