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Janusz Bugajski: Kosovo Will be an Early Test for Future U.S.-Russia Relations

Scholar Janusz Bugajski of CSIS thinks that the Kosovo issue will be the first major challenge of relations with Russia to be addressed during the U.S. presidential elections next year: The Putin leadership has deliberately created a sense of danger through its anti-Western rhetoric. It claims that the United States and its closest NATO allies, such as Britain and Poland, are seeking to encircle Russia and prevent the country from regaining its rightful position as a major global player. The expansion of Western alliances and the promotion of liberal democracies are depicted as direct threats to Russia’s interests. In these testing circumstances, the U.S. presidential election in November will be a good time to decide which direction the United States is heading. The next U.S. president will inherit a heavy agenda in seeking to restore Washington’s prestige and authority around the world and in rebuilding effective alliances that can counter the major security threats. Among the priority items for the United States will be dealing with an expansionist Kremlin that is once again seeking to divide the Western alliance and diminish U.S. influence. The decision on Kosovo’s statehood will be an early indication of whether Washington is determined to stand by its principles and is capable of ensuring trans-Atlantic cohesion — even at the cost of exacerbating the inevitable confrontation with Russia.