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Russia, Georgia, and the WTO

Paul J. Saunders writes about the difficulties Washington will face in convincing Georgia to go along with Russia’s ascension to the World Trade Organization.

In the narrow sense, Russia needs to be a WTO member more than America needs Russia in the WTO, though Russia is the largest economy still outside the group. In a broader sense, however, it is important for the United States to bring Russia into the WTO, both to respond to Moscow’s priorities in a way that also benefits America and to further the West’s top-level strategic goal in dealing with post-Soviet Russia–integrating Russia into the rules-based international system.

More generally still, the U.S.-Russian relationship today is a little bit like an underpowered car climbing a steep hill with no brakes. It is difficult to move forward, but simultaneously impossible to stop without rolling backward–with unpredictable and dangerous consequences. Hopefully Georgia will be a bump and not a roadblock.