Remarks by US Ambassador at Large and Special Adviser for the NIS States S. Sestanovich on US Policy Toward Russia
Washington D.C., 16 July 1998

Our goal since the end of the Cold War has been a democratic, undivided Europe that includes Russia and all of the New Independent States. Our interests dictate that we work to draw Russia into more cooperative relationships with its immediate neighbors and with the world as a whole. Inclusion is a sounder policy than isolation, but it does not mean forgetting our interests or ignoring our differences. During a recent NATO-Russia meeting, Secretary Albright expressed this well when she said, "We are not here to pretend or to paper over differences. We are here to work through them."

Let me start with Russia and its neighbors. Some, perhaps most, of Russia's neighbors believe that Moscow is out to dominate them. (And some Russians accuse us of trying to supplant them in the region.) This Administration categorically rejects the idea of a Russian sphere of influence. The reality is that the region needs a cooperative, constructive Russia, whose dealings with its neighbors accord with international norms for relations among sovereign states.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the Caucasus. Our objective has been to provide firm support for the independence and territorial integrity of these and the other New Independent States. Our cooperation with Russia has made positive contributions to lowering tensions and building new, appropriate relationships among the NIS, but the picture is not uniform.