A socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions, congress, exhibitions, business, social and sporting, public, and cultural events.

The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, sporting, and cultural events. It was established in pursuance of a decision by the President of the Russian Federation.

The Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of facilitating the development of Russia’s economic potential, promoting its national interests, and strengthening the country’s image. One of the roles of the Foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyse, and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and attracting investment, and helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives.

Each year, the Foundation’s events draw participants from 208 countries and territories, with more than 15,000 media representatives working on-site at Roscongress’ various venues. The Foundation benefits from analytical and professional expertise provided by 5000 people working in Russia and abroad. In addition, it works in close cooperation with 160 economic partners; industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions; and financial, trade, and business associations from 75 countries worldwide.

The Roscongress Foundation has Telegram channels in Russian (t.me/Roscongress), English (t.me/RoscongressDirect), and Spanish (t.me/RoscongressEsp). Official website and Information and Analytical System of the Roscongress Foundation: roscongress.org.

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Russia–USA Bilateral Relations: One Year on
25 January 2018
13:00
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Relations between Russia and the US will not improve in the near future

“The US–Russia relationship now is a competitive one. This shouldn’t be surprising: great powers compete. The United States and Russia have competed since the United States emerged as a great power at the very end of the 19th century. The issues that divide us today – different interpretations of the principles of the world order, geopolitical conflicts, the values gap – are the same ones that plagued this relationship from the very beginning. It’s not unusual that we are in this competitive relationship. I think the challenge now is to prevent this competitive relationship from turning into permanently adversarial one. In a multi-polar world, in a world where the is balance of power is the way of guaranteeing peace and stability over the long term, the United States and Russia are going to have to work as partners, in coalition against third countries and other forces that may threaten that balance. So we’re going to have to find a way to work together,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

“This is problematic now, because we have the process of demonization going on, that tends to reinforce the antagonistic relationship, and pushes us further down this path of permanently hostile relations. And so, the urgent task that we face now is to reduce tensions between our two countries,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

“As far as the prospects go, I do not see anything in the foreseeable future, because this flywheel of confrontation, of mutual trust – which is not even zero, it is negative – has already been rotated to the point that there must be either some very serious change in the entire atmosphere around the globe, or a certain pause, when the parties would deal with their own matters. And that is most likely, because if you look at the global situation in general, it is perfectly obvious that for all nations the internal issues are much more important today than the foreign policy issues,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

“Despite the fact that this is urgent, it really doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to do this in the near-term. We can’t do that because each country finds itself in an electoral cycle, and there are no political dividends to be had from arguing for a better relationship. In fact, you get political dividends by being tough. This inclination towards toughness is reinforced by the developments in the United States, domestically, at this point,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

“The tendency in the United States is going to be towards toughness over the near term,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

“There are no instruments of foreign policy pressure available [to the U.S. Congress] other than the sanctions, <...> and if so, the sanctions will be applied, making up for the lack of any other tools. <...> This is a big problem that Russia, most likely, will somehow have to live with and resist,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Economic cooperation between Russia and the US continues to develop, despite foreign policy factors

“The good news is that business between Russia and the US continues. In spite of all the problems, the sanctions, the headlines, business goes on and investment continues to be made in Russia from the US,” — Alexis Rodzianko, President, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

“While the American companies continue to invest, while they continue to do business, they don’t talk about it. They are afraid that the important relationships may be damaged, so they’re very careful about what they say and how they say it,” — Alexis Rodzianko, President, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

“The closer you are to Russia, the deeper you get into the fine print of what the sanctions say, and the more you operate within the framework they define in enormous detail. The further you are from Russia, the closer you are to the headline, and the headline is simple: Russia under sanctions. So that’s a big hurdle to jump for people who haven’t been in Russia. Now, any big company that is a major participant in any industry will have to consider Russia as a big market, and they do. My advice to those companies is: take a look at your plans, take them off the shelf, and maybe don’t make a big deal, but maybe take a look at Russia. There are people who are willing to talk to you about it. Tough sell, but that’s the pitch,” — Alexis Rodzianko, President, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

ISSUES
The media does not contribute to rapid improvement of bilateral relations between Russia and the US, adversely affecting public opinion

“The media unfortunately is focused on attention: they like attention and they talk about what gets attention. When the media stops talking, we start noticing some positive things happening. And may be the catalyst for that is when the politicians calm down. But I think the media is more of a reflection than a leader,” — Alexis Rodzianko, President, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

“The whole picture in the media has very little to do with what is going on. People understand more than those who produce television and other information sources would like them to see. If you look at the level of trust in journalism everywhere, [it] is very low. And the elites that are accustomed to broadcasting their ideas and attitudes through the media, they can’t understand: what is it, why? As a result, there is <...> the endless realm of distorting mirrors,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

“The situation is alarming when 68% of Russians think of America as their biggest enemy; on the other hand, in the US <...> if you simply mention Russia, your counterpart in a conversation gets very nervous,” — Shlomo Weber, Rector, Academic Head, Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions, New Economic School; Professor, Southern Methodist University.

“The situation turns out to be the worst: on one hand, Russia is demonized: things that Russia could not possibly do are attributed to it; on the other hand, there is lack of will to change this situation, because why, what would it bring, how would that benefit the US? On our part, we are very much stuck in the anti-American narrative: the theme in our information channels does not contribute to anything, except for repeating the same stereotypes, which also lead to nothing,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

“What is the main problem in our relations [relations between Russia and the US]? The increasing gap between the perception of each other’s importance,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Stabilizing the bilateral relations is hindered by the fact that Russia and the US are at the stage of internal adaptation to changes in the world

“The main problem is that both Russia and the US are in the process of a very complex internal restructuring and adaptation to the new world. That is a bigger challenge for America: we are used to it, we have been living in the situation of endless frenzy for the past 30 years, and in some ways, we have got used to it, and we even find pleasure in the absence of strategy, but we have mastered the tactics brilliantly. In a sense, that may be the right conduct for the given period of time. For America, that is unexpected, because the bet was on something completely different. When it became clear that everything that was counted on, what was carefully built over the past 25–28 years, it totally went sideways, and the tools that the US and the Western society created and used to their benefit suddenly became applicable to them. It was not Trump who changed America; the changed America pushed Trump upward as the caricature reflection of those changes. Trump is the terminator who can break those policies and strategies that no longer work,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

“This means that when we talk about certain local problems – the Middle East, for instance – we are used to believing that the Middle East is top priority for the US. Looking at what is happening: who said it was a priority? The overall policy is generally evidence to the contrary. Moreover, as soon as the Americans somehow try to increase their attention, the result is, better not do that. Perhaps, the new America does not need that, and then – why negotiate with Russia on the subject? If we take a number of global aspects, it turns out that everything has changed very much, those stereotypes, our vision – it is out of touch. Russia faces its own issues. To what extent do we need that, and how long the foreign policy and making amends for the failures of the past decades would be replacing everything else? So far, in my opinion, we are doing exactly that. Instead of seriously engaging into the country’s development strategy, we compensate for it with rather successful actions in the foreign field, but that too is being exhausted,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

“The degree of campaign against Russia, whatever its motivation is, shows that the vast majority of American politicians and representatives of different parties do not see any particular risk in reducing the relations with Russia to a level possibly never seen before,” — Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Complications in bilateral relations between Russia and the US create risks for both countries

“If we continue down this path, we are going to find that the United States and Russia can both lose,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

SOLUTIONS
Competition between countries needs to be managed

“This is a competitive relationship but the United States and Russia need to manage this competition as responsible great powers,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

Attention focus can be shifted from actual bilateral relations to joint solution of common problems

“It’s time in both countries that we move away from the process of assigning blame for the state of affairs to trying to figure out how we get off this path towards permanently hostile relations <...> The refrain that you hear in Moscow is that we didn’t start this, we’re not responsible for this mess, suggesting that the Russian side does not have to exercise any initiative in trying to find the way out of this dangerous path. Or that it is the United States that is going to have to make all the compromises in order to turn the situation around. Similarly, if you look at this from the American standpoint, the United States needs to abandon this idea, that if we simply raise the level of pressure enough, largely through piling on additional sanctions, then Russia is going to cave in to our preferences. The harder fact that we need to recognize is that neither country is going to cave. Each country sees itself as defending its own national interest, and each side is going to have to demonstrate some greater flexibility in order to reduce the tension to move this relationship in a more positive way. And the sooner that we started doing this, the various discussions that we’re having on Syria, on Ukraine, the very strategic questions, the better off we’re going to be,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

“Everybody agrees that what we need in this relationship is more communication, that we need to open up to channels of communication. It is extremely difficult to do under the circumstances in Washington at this point. But for those of us who have been dealing with this relationship for 30 years or more, this is actually the worst we’ve seen it. Even during the Cold War, there were regular communications, we had a much better understanding of what the perspective of the other side was, what the red lines were, what the limits were. We knew the risks that we were running in various policies that we undertook at that time. Now the two countries are operating in vacuum. Despite the educational exchange programmes, what we’ve seen over the past generation is the deterioration in expertise in both the United States about Russia, and Russia about the United States. With that lack of expertise, without the communications at this point, the risk multiplies dramatically, that we’re going to misread one another, we’re going to wind up in a situation that neither country really intends to be in. We need to open up the channels of communication, we need to talk through the range of issues. And the focus of that initial conversation should be not business as usual: we’re not returning to that, we’re not looking to be partners anymore. What we’re looking for is to make sure that we clearly understand the other side, that we can base our policies on reality, and not on our own myths about what the other side is,” — Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates.

“From the standpoint of long-term prospects, indeed, the coordination, the joint work of the US and Russia is very useful, especially in regard to Asia, Central Asia, and India,” — Shlomo Weber, Rector, Academic Head, Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions, New Economic School; Professor, Southern Methodist University.

The catalyst of overall “warming” in the relations between Russia and the US could be the interaction in the sphere of human capital development

“In the US and other Western countries, there is a perfect understanding that the level of human capital [in Russia] is higher. In this context [from the viewpoint of human capital] from the viewpoint of doing business, <...> in many cases it is better to deal with regional authorities. In some cases, foreign companies have certain advantages when they work outside of Moscow. Certain governors and regional authorities are more open toward businesses,” — Shlomo Weber, Rector, Academic Head, Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions, New Economic School; Professor, Southern Methodist University.

“Academic exchange with the US is now larger than it was before. More American students want to go to Russia and vice versa. From this standpoint, the exchange even intensifies compared to several years ago. From the viewpoint of businesses this is a very hard time, so you need to invest in academic associations, cultural cooperation, to keep the fire burning. If something turns upside down, we will be able to move on to more positive aspects,” — Shlomo Weber, Rector, Academic Head, Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions, New Economic School; Professor, Southern Methodist University.