US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today that the relationship with Russia needs intensive diplomacy, but said that relations were not at all comparable to the Cold War.
”I don’t throw around terms like ‘new Cold War,”’ Rice told reporters as she flew here. ”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. ”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 said. She said, ”It is critically important to use this time to enhance those things that are going well and to work on those things that are not going well.” She noted that the United States and Russia were working together in numerous areas, including on dealing with Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs as well as cooperating in the fight to stop the global spread of weapons of mass destruction and Middle East peace efforts. ”Russia is not the Soviet Union, so this is not a U.S.-Soviet relationship, this is a U.S.-Russian relationship,” said Rice, an expert on the Cold War who first visited Moscow in 1979. ”A great deal has a changed.” … Russia views U.S. activity in its former sphere of influence with growing suspicion and just last week, Putin denounced ”disrespect for human life, claims to global exclusiveness and dictate, just as it was in the time of the Third Reich.” The Kremlin insisted that Putin had not meant to compare the Bush administration’s policies with those of Nazi Germany but the reference appeared to highlight Russia’s annoyance at what it sees as U.S. domination of world affairs and meddling in Russian politics. Rice did not address Putin’s comments but suggested that sometimes emotionally charged remarks by Russian officials were not constructive, saying she had urged counterparts to avoid ”rhetoric that suggests the relationship is one of hostility.” She couched criticism of Russia’s democratic progress under Putin with a caveat alluding to the country’s troubled history — from Czarist empire to communist monolith — a nation now struggling to find its role in the world and at home. ”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.