Then New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani with President Putin at an international memorial wall for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks, November 15, 2001
From the Council on Foreign Relations:
The Candidates on U.S. Policy toward Russia
The Washington Post
Friday, December 28, 2007
As 2007 drew to a close, U.S.-Russian relations remained troubled on a number of fronts, especially policy toward Iran, the expansion of NATO, and Kosovo's status.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has firmly opposed President Bush's plan to build a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland and has signaled changes to an important post-Soviet arms pact. Russia has also been critical of U.S. attempts to ratchet up pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program; in October 2007 Putin likened the Bush administration's posture toward Iran to "a madman with a razor blade" (al-Jazeera). Putin's increasingly anti-democratic moves have also raised alarm among both Republican and Democratic policymakers in Washington. At the same time, top officials and candidates from both parties have stressed the importance of engaging Russia on matters of strategic importance, in particular securing Russia's vast stocks of nuclear materials, to avoid proliferation to rogue states or other groups.
Senator Hillary Clinton: "I'm interested in what Russia does outside its borders first. I don't think I can, as the president of the United States, wave my hand and tell the Russian people they should have a different government."
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Clinton pledged to "negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals."
She also called for engagement with Russia on "issues of high national importance," including Iran, loose nuclear weapons, and the status of the Serbian province of Kosovo. She said Washington's "ability to view Russia as a genuine partner depends on whether Russia chooses to strengthen democracy or return to authoritarianism and regional interference.
Still, she told The Boston Globe in October 2007, "I'm interested in what Russia does outside its borders first. I don't think I can, as the president of the United States, wave my hand and tell the Russian people they should have a different government."
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)
Obama (D-IL) has said Russia is "neither our enemy nor close ally," and said the United States "shouldn't shy away from pushing for more democracy, transparency, and accountability" there. He has focused much of his discussion of Russia on diminishing the possibility of nuclear weapons use. In a July 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Obama said the United States and Russia should collaborate to "update and scale back our dangerously outdated Cold War nuclear postures and de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons."
In an October 2007 speech in Chicago, Obama said if elected he would work to "take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material." He said he would seek a "global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons" and an expansion of "the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles."
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
Huckabee seems optimistic about the U.S.-Russian relationship. "Things will be better than during the Cold War because, much as we do not want another 9/11, Putin does not want another terrorist attack like the 2004 school siege in Beslan," he wrote in a January 2008 Foreign Affairs essay. Still, he is critical of Putin, whom he calls "a staunch nationalist in a country that has no democratic tradition."
Former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney
Romney advocates "a lot of cooperation" with Russia, as well as "frank and open discussions" about the state of democracy there. He also said in an April 2007 speech that the United States should work to secure "the vast amount of highly enriched nuclear material in their country."
Romney supports the planned National Missile Defense program of the Bush administration.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani
Giuliani advocates commercial engagement with Russia, but has also expressed support for the planned missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. In an October 2007 Republican debate, Giuliani also called for an increase in military spending to "send a heck of a signal" to Russia.
In November 2001, Giuliani accompanied Putin on a visit to Ground Zero. Giuliani told news media at the time that the attacks of September 11, 2001 would bring the United States and Russia closer together. In 2004, Giuliani traveled to Moscow to promote U.S.-Russian business relations.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
McCain has strongly criticized Putin, whom he has called "a dangerous person." In an October 2007 Republican debate, McCain expressed support for President Bush's plan to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. "I don't care what [Putin's] objections are to it," he said.
In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article McCain called for a new approach to what he called a "revanchist" Russia. In that piece, he advocated Russian exclusion from the G-8, and said the West should send a message to Russia that NATO "is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom." He also said the United States should promote democracy in Russia.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)
Rep. Paul advocates a "strong national defense and a policy of non-intervention abroad" to ensure a Russia policy that "seeks our national interest."
In January 2007, Paul cosponsored a resolution to suspend the antidumping duty orders on imports of solid urea -- a substance used in fertilizers, plastics, and animal feed -- from Russia and Ukraine. That bill failed.
Paul was the only member of the House to vote against a 2007 resolution "noting the disturbing pattern of killings of numerous independent journalists in Russia since 2000, and urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to authorize cooperation with outside investigators in solving those murders."
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson
Thompson is skeptical of the Russian government, which he has said is "apparently run by ex-KGB agents" (National Review Online).
"Oppose the Russian leadership, and you could trip and fall off a tall building or stumble into the path of a bullet," writes Thompson, whose studies focused on Russia, among other national security topics, at the American Enterprise Institute.
Thompson has not yet specified a plan for U.S. policy toward Russia.