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Special Report by the Russian and Eurasian Policy Project: A Realistic Agenda for the Obama Presidency

Recorded on March 27, 2009

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

The Russian and Eurasian Policy Project was launched by The Heritage Foundation to assist Legislative and Executive Branch policymakers in the formulation of policies toward Russia and the Eurasia region.  Selected authors with extensive experience and leading reputations in the field - including government careers in both Republican and Democratic administrations, national security policymaking, and Russian and Eurasian affairs - contributed to this report.  It is meant to be prescriptive in addition to being descriptive, and the policy recommendations realistic, implementable and balanced.

The Obama Administration faces a multiplicity of challenges: the global financial crisis; troop redeployment from Iraq; an opaque, unpredictable and nuclear weapons-aspiring Iran; a precarious and deteriorating Afghanistan; and an increasingly chaotic Pakistan.  Another geo-strategic challenge, however, will plague the President for the duration of his term and may trouble his successor as well: Moscow is striving to achieve a more powerful role in the global architecture.

In recent years, under Vladimir Putin's leadership, Russia has pursued an increasingly assertive, if not aggressive, foreign policy as illustrated by its war with Georgia last August - a watershed event in post-Soviet Eurasian geopolitics - as well as by the Russo-Ukraine gas conflict this January.  Despite the acute economic crisis, the Kremlin is seeking to carve out a "privileged sphere of interest" and exert dominance over its neighbors.  Russia is reaching out to rogues from Caracas to Teheran, using Europe's natural gas dependence as a tool of foreign policy, and picking a fight over the prospect of a limited, Europe-based ballistic missile defense system.  The Report examines the multiple Russian challenges faced by the United States and Europe.
 
To meet these challenges and preserve the security of Europe and Eurasia, the Report recommends that the Obama Administration conduct a comprehensive assessment of U.S.-Russian relations and prepare a detailed foreign policy agenda that protects American interests; checks Russian efforts to create a sphere of influence in the "near abroad;" deters aggression against the U.S., its allies, and its strategic partners; encourages Russia to adhere to the rule of law at home and abroad; and provide a level playing field in economic relations - in short, to act as a responsible player in the international system.  Conference participants will be briefed by Task Force Members on key findings and receive copies of the Special Report.