Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 17, 2004

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- Russia Relations in Putin’s Second Term
Hyde schedules Thursday hearing on President
of Russia’s politics and impact on U.S. policy 

BACKGROUND: U.S.-Russian bilateral relations have fluctuated substantially in recent years, from close cooperation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to tension in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year and U.S. criticism of creeping Russian authoritarianism. In a post-election press conference on Monday, President Putin said that Russia’s economic growth remains his top priority. The ascendancy of the military and security forces within the Putin regime and Russia’s economic revival and growing self-confidence could impel Moscow toward more assertive foreign policies that exacerbate relations with Washington.  While there is a growing sense of irritation in both capitals toward the other, each side seems to have strong domestic and strategic incentives to prevent irritation from growing into enmity.  Many in Russia and the West believe that Putin cannot afford to confront a hostile United States.  Many also believe that the United States needs Russian cooperation in slowing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, one of its most urgent priorities. 

WHAT: Full Committee oversight hearing: U.S. - Russia Relations in Putin’s Second Term
10:30 a.m., Thursday, March 18, 2004
WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
WITNESSES: A. Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Leon Aron, Ph.D., Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Steven R. Sestanovich, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; and Nikolas K. Gvosdev, Ph.D., Senior Fellow in Strategic Studies, The Nixon Center 

Questions expected to be addressed at the hearing:

bulletWhat is the current state of U.S.-Russian relations?  Where do U.S. and Russian interests coincide and where do they diverge?
bulletImmediately after his reelection, Putin indicated that Russia’s foreign policy would be more “balanced” between several countries, implying a more distant relationship with the United States. If true, how will this new outlook affect Russia’s foreign policy, especially its relationship with the United States?
bulletHow important to U.S. interests is a robust Russian democracy?  Is close cooperation between the U.S. and Russia possible if Putin continues to diverge from a democratic path?
bulletPutin has said that the guiding principal of Russia’s foreign policy is to promote economic development.  If true, how does this shape Moscow’s foreign policy priorities?
bulletThe war on terrorism has been a major factor in promoting good relations between the U.S. and Russia.  What has been Russia’s contribution to that effort?  How has this cooperation affected U.S. policy regarding Chechnya?
bullet Russian construction of a nuclear reactor in Iran remains the most salient issue of disagreement between the U.S. and Russia.  Why has Moscow remained adamantly opposed to terminating the project, given the potential contribution to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons?  Is there anything the U.S. can do to persuade the Russian government to terminate the project?

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