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If the Russian-U.S. summit does not produce results, relations between the two countries may become strained
If the Russian-U.S. summit does not produce results, relations between the two countries may become strained, according to Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of the USA and Canada at the Russian Academy of Sciences. "If we draw a parallel with being on a bike, now is the time 'to pedal' in Russian-U.S. relations. If the summit does not produce results - if our bicycle does not lurch forward - we could fall," Mr. Rogov said. "We are now at a stage when it is either necessary to act, or to look at how what was built earlier is breaking," he said. Mr. Rogov, the leading Russian expert on U.S. problems, noted that both the U.S. and Russia have their own priorities. "We are for partnership, but not for the 'wingman - leader' form when we should react to every American sneeze. The most important is that we would have common interests, and our countries indeed have them," Mr. Rogov said. Russia must not "be guided by emotions and lapse into hysterics over each statement made by the U.S.," he said, noting that it is wrong to throw a tantrum about the consideration of the Yukos case in Houston. "This court's decision has no legal force in Russia whatsoever. For example, it makes no difference how our court would rule [in a case] concerning an American company. It is of no importance," he said. It would be equally wrong to go to extremes over U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying that it is necessary to finance democratic institutions in Russia. Mr. Rogov noted that the U.S. has always financed such programs. "What are we, afraid that $40-50 million can change Russia's fate? A country whose gold and foreign currency reserves now exceed $100 billion cannot be blasted by a green, red, orange or any other revolution, or by a $50 million propaganda campaign," Mr. Rogov said. However, Mr. Rogov said that at the summit in Bratislava, Russia and the U.S. intend to stress the issues that bring them closer together, not divide them, noting that the Bush administration has found itself in a difficult situation. "There is no prospect for a quick and happy ending to the Iraqi adventure, and the U.S. economy is showing signs of being overstrained," he said. "This striving to be the only superpower in the world is an unbearable burden for the U.S." A double deficit has emerged - the federal budget deficit, amounting to 4-5% of the GDP, and the deficit in the U.S. balance of payments. This means that the U.S. consumes more than it produces, while others pay for it. "America consumes real products and services, and pays for this by printing dollars," Mr. Rogov said. During his first term, U.S. President George W. Bush "managed to very seriously spoil relations with all the traditional allies of the U.S." That is why he went to Europe right after taking office - he needed to make it up to the partners, Mr. Rogov said. "He needs the allies' support in order to avoid a disastrous development in the Iraqi scenario, in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement and in relations with Iran and North Korea. This list is quite impressive, since, as they say, after having gotten in up to its ears in Iraq, the only superpower has, in essence, lost control of the course of developments," Mr. Rogov said. "For this reason, it seems to me that it makes no sense for the Bush administration to initiate differences with Russia. And the Russian side in no way wants to destroy the foundation of partnership that took so much effort to build," he said
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