Russian Ambassador to U.S: We must destroy phantoms of the past

In an article that appears in the Wednesday issue of The Washington Post, Russian Ambassador to the USA Yuri Ushakov warned Russia and the USA against backslides into the "old ways of thinking." "The meeting between Vladimir Putin and George Bush in Camp David showed that Russian-American relations keep strengthening," stresses the diplomat. "The level of mutual understanding was impressing, even though the two presidents tended to disagree on some issues. They are sincere as well as constructive when discussing the most delicate issues, as befits the leaders of two countries building a friendly relationship." "Unfortunately, not everyone in Russia and the USA shares the same approach. Not every person living in the two countries is capable of accepting new realities," Ushakov writes. "Old stereotypes still prevent us from using all of our potential when it comes to combating terrorism and proliferation of nuclear weapons - and they hinder our efforts to deal with other challenges." Dwelling on the "backslides into the past," Ushakov recalls the "requirement that all Russian subjects working for the UN Secretariat in New York notify the US authorities in advance whenever they need to leave the 25-mile zone around the UN headquarters." He also mentions the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which was adopted to help Jews emigrate from the USSR. "Unhindered emigration has long become a reality in this country, that's an undeniable fact," the diplomat notes. "The problem is not to leave Russia but to enter the United States, that's where the difficulty lies." He proceeds to speak about the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. "Why are they trying to present it as an award that we may or may not get?" he questions. "Obviously, the program benefits not only Russia but also the USA and the whole world community." Going on to speak about the Chechen problem, the ambassador writes: "We expect those who also suffered from terrorist attacks to at least show restraint." He reminds the reader that it is inadmissible to use the situation in Chechnya "in the context of traditional propaganda." "Russia is not trying to gain extra points in PR with the help of tragedies involving the death of civilians in the course of the US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq," he recalls. "We realize that the situation, the conditions under which one acts in these countries are out of the ordinary," he adds, hoping that "Americans will take this into account next time they try to analyze the complex situation we're in." "We cannot have the 'cold-war' legacy undermining the achievements of our strategic partnership and the success we achieved in the struggle against terrorism, a struggle in which we act as allies," concludes Ushakov, emphasizing that "we must destroy the phantoms of the past."

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