US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that it is
"not an easy" time in Russia-US relations, but that the tensions do
not amount to a new Cold War.
"It is a big, complicated relationship, but it is not one that
is anything like the implacable hostility" that clouded ties
between the United States and the Soviet Union, Rice said before
she arrived in Moscow for two days of meetings amid growing
tensions that have been underlined by President Vladimir Putin's
increasing criticism of the United States.
"It is not an easy time in the relationship, but it is also not,
I think, a time in which cataclysmic things are affecting the
relationship or catastrophic things are happening in the
relationship," Rice told reporters aboard her plane.
Washington's relations with Moscow are troubled by sharp
disagreements on specific issues in particular the US proposal to
place elements of a missile defense system in former Soviet
satellite countries and by a clear rise in the Kremlin's suspicion
of American intentions worldwide.
Russian officials bristle at US criticism of a perceived Kremlin
rollback of democracy and complain that Washington is interfering
in the country's internal affairs by funding pro-democracy groups.
Russia also accuses the US of trying to dominate international
In an address on the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany,
Putin last week denounced "disrespect for human life, claims to
global exclusiveness... just as it was in the time of the Third
Reich." He did not name a specific country but analysts saw the US
as the clear target.
Rice suggested Russian officials' sometimes emotionally charged
wording of their complaints is not constructive.
She appeared to try to tread carefully on the issue of Russia's
democratic progress under Putin, couching criticism in a caveat
alluding to the country's troubled history.
"This is a big and complex place that is going through a major
historic transformation... things are not going to change
overnight, but frankly we would like to see them change faster than
they are changing, and for the better," Rice said.
Along with missile defense and democracy, issues likely to come
up in Rice's meetings include Russia's resistance to a US-backed
draft UN resolution supporting independence for Kosovo, Putin's
call for a moratorium on observing the Conventional Forces in
Europe treaty, and Russia's increasing control of oil and natural
gas supplies to Western Europe.
(China Daily May 15, 2007)