US Report: US-Russia relations deteriorating

Continuation of Russia’s drift away from democratic norms under President Vladimir Putin "will make it harder for the two sides to find common ground and harder to co-operate even when they do," said the report, which was issued by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. It warned that some critical problems cannot be dealt with effectively unless Moscow and Washington co-operate.

"If Russia remains on an authoritarian course, U.S.-Russian relations will almost certainly continue to fall short of their potential," the report said. Release of the report was timed to coincide with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Washington, his first as foreign minister. He is due to arrive today and will meet the next day with President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The report urged that the United States preserve and expand co-operation on dealing with the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and on coping with the risk of Russian nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands. On the whole, though, the report said relations were headed in the wrong direction.

"In particular, Russia’s relations with other post-Soviet states have become a source of significantly heightened US-Russian friction," it said.