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U.S.-Russia Relations Need Structure

James F. Collins of Carnegie Endowment has a column in the Moscow Times about the need to create an institutional apparatus to carry out relations between Moscow and Wasington in a structured and predictable environment … in other words, make the relationship Biden-proof.

The creation of a bilateral commission led by Obama and Medvedev has given the impetus for new machinery to address this problem. The commission will provide a framework for the two governments to carry out routine work effectively and prevent neglect of issues with the potential to cause trouble. As set out in their statements from Moscow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Lavrov will lead and coordinate the work of the commission’s working groups. Each of the groups is structured to address a major element of U.S.-Russian relations and will permit the governments to develop pragmatic, mutually beneficial programs to deepen and broaden dialogue at both the analytical and political levels. They can further develop mechanisms for ongoing consultation and cooperation — something that has been absent for so long.

The flare-up over Biden’s remarks last week further underscores how far we have to go to realize the reset in relations agreed by the leaders of Russia and the United States.