The U.S. relations with Russia have “deteriorated significantly” in past several years over number of issues, including over “unjustifiable recognition of two breakaway regions,” Philip H. Gordon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state-designate for European and Eurasian affairs, said on March 26.
Gordon said in a prepared testimony at a nomination hearing in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that openness of Western institutions like the European Union and NATO “must be continued.”
“In promoting a peaceful, united and democratic Europe, we must – working with the EU, NATO and the OSCE – strongly support the sovereignty and independence of all European states, including those that emerged out of the former Soviet Union,” Gordon said.
“If confirmed as Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, I look forward to engaging actively and across the entire region to help promote democracy, encourage economic reform, protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolve the enduring conflicts that cause needless suffering on a daily basis and – as we saw last summer in Georgia – risk erupting violently at any time,” he said.
Gordon, who was Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisor during the presidential campaign, said that President Obama “rejects the notion that relations between the United States and Russia are a “zero-sum game” and believes that the United States and Russia have many common objectives in the world.”
“At the same time, we must make clear to the Russians – and to our allies across Europe – that our desire to improve the tone and substance of U.S.-Russia relations in no way signals a willingness to abandon our principles,” he continued. “As Vice President Biden said in his speech to the Munich Security Conference in February, even as he called for a fresh start in our relations, the United States will not recognize a Russian sphere of influence in Europe, and it will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances.”