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RUSSIA - FOREIGN RELATIONS
In the years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia took important steps to become a full partner in the world's principal political groupings. On December 27, 1991, Russia assumed the permanent UN Security Council seat formerly held by the Soviet Union. Russia also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Russia and the European Union (EU) signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. It signed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace initiative in 1994. The NATO-Russia Founding Act established the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) in 1997, with the NATO-Russia Council superseding the PJC in 2002. Russia, despite misgivings, did not actively oppose enlargement of NATO by members of the former Warsaw Pact and the Baltic states, which had been forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union. However, Russia has recently stressed its strong opposition to the membership aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia.
Over the past several years Russia has increased its international profile, played an increasing role in regional issues, and been more assertive in dealing with its neighbors. In recent years, Russia has not shied from using its significant oil and gas exports as leverage over countries dependent on Russian sources. Russia continues to support separatist regimes in Georgia and Moldova. The August 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia marked a new low point in relations between the two countries, with Russia unilaterally recognizing the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries.
The United States and Russia share common interests on a broad range of issues, including counterterrorism and the drastic reduction of our strategic arsenals. Russia shares our basic goal of stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, launched in 1992 to facilitate dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union, was renewed in 2006 until 2013. At the 2006 G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, the U.S. and Russia announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to keep terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials. We are working with Russia to bring Iran's nuclear programs into compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rules and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737, 1747, and 1803. On North Korea, Russia is a participant in the Six-Party Talks aimed at the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Russia also takes part in the Middle East Peace Process "Quartet" (along with the UN and the EU). Russia now interacts with NATO members as an equal through the NATO-Russia Council but without veto power over NATO decisions. During the past several years, Russia has intensified its efforts to combat trafficking in persons. We are cooperating in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Despite this cooperation, there remain areas in which the U.S. and Russia disagree, including over Moscow’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and assertion of “privileged interests” in Eurasia. The Obama administration is seeking ways to improve our bilateral relations and enhance cooperation by focusing on areas of mutual interest, while managing areas of disagreement.
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