On Aug. 7, American news outlets were reporting that Russia, China and Iran are working to “denigrate” Joe Biden in his presidential election set for Nov. 3.

The director of the US National Intelligence confirmed reports that Russia is using a “range of measures” primarily to undermine the Democratic candidate for the presidency.

ODNI said that “Some Kremlin-linked actors are also trying to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”  

Six foreign policy experts have signed a intelligently-written letter to provide an American guide on our relationship with Russia. Politico published the letter in full.

Here are condensed versions of their suggestions. The six signatories — most of them well-known — are at the bottom of the editorial.

The letter opens with some of the US-Russia policy problems that can become dangerous in future relationships.

“US-Russia relations are at a dangerous dead end that threatens the US national interest. The risk of a military confrontation that could go nuclear is again real. We are drifting toward a fraught nuclear arms race, with our foreign-policy arsenal reduced mainly to reactions, sanctions, public shaming and congressional resolutions. The global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting worldwide economic decline, rather than fostering cooperation, have only reinforced the current downward trajectory.”

1. “We go into this open-eyed. Russia complicates, even thwarts, our actions, especially along its extended periphery in Europe and Asia. It has seized territory in Ukraine and Georgia. It challenges our role as a global leader and the world order we helped build. It interferes in our domestic politics to exacerbate divisions and tarnish our democratic reputation.”

2. “We must find a way to deal effectively with Russian interference in US elections and, most important, block any effort to corrupt the voting process.”

3. “It makes no sense for two countries with the power to destroy each other and, in 30 minutes, to end civilization as we know it, to lack fully functioning diplomatic relations.

4. “Our strategic posture should be that which served us well during the Cold War: a balanced commitment to deterrence and détente.”

5. “The imperative is to restore US -Russian leadership in managing a nuclear world made more dangerous by destabilizing technologies, shifting attitudes toward the use of nuclear weapons, discarded nuclear agreements and new tension-filled nuclear relationships.”

6. “The success of US-China policy will in no small measure depend on whether the state of US-Russia relations permits three-way cooperation on critical issues.”

7. “On salient issues where US and Russian interests are in genuine conflict, such as Ukraine and Syria, the US should remain firm on principles shared with our allies and critical to a fair outcome.”

8. “While sanctions should be part of our Russia policy, they should be targeted and used in conjunction with other elements of national power, especially diplomacy”  

In conclusion, the experts said that ultimately the reality is that Russia, under Vladimir Putin, operates within a strategic framework deeply rooted in nationalist traditions that resonate with elites and the public alike.

Signing the letter were Ross Gottemoeller, Thomas Graham, Fiona Hill, Jon Huntsman Jr., Robert Legvold and Thomas R. Pickering.

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