March 24-April 5: Environmental Working Group: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experts will participate in the Waterfowl of Northern Eurasia Conference in Elista, Kalmykia (March 24-29); discuss cooperation on migratory birds with their Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Academy of Sciences counterparts. They will then participate in trilateral meetings with Russia and Japan on the management of migratory bird resources of the Pacific region (April 4-5).
March 26 – April 8: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: A delegation of 18 Russian youth and 3 coaches, brought to the United States by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs SportsUnited Office and the National Hockey League (NHL), will continue their visit to Washington, DC and New York. Scheduled itinerary includes participation in youth ice hockey clinics with American youth players, programs on team building and sports and disability, a visit to NHL headquarters and a meeting with NHL-great and Russian Federation Council Senator, Viacheslav Fetisov. Watch an interview with some of the students here.
The visiting Russian youth hockey delegation teaching floor hockey to elementary school students in Arlington, Virginia. (State Department)
March 28 – 31: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: The American Ballet Theater (ABT) will perform at the Bolshoi Theater. American Ballet Theatre’s performances in Moscow are part of the annual Mstislav Rostropovich Week Festival and mark the company’s first appearance in the Russian capital city since 1960. With the assistance of the U.S. State Department, the Kultura Channel produced a documentary on the Russian roots of American ballet, featuring an interview with Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director of the American Ballet Theater.
March 28 – April 8: U.S.-Russia Bilateral Consultative Commission on New START Treaty: Delegations from the United States and the Russian Federation will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from March 28 to April 8, for the inaugural session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC). The BCC is the implementation body created by the New START Treaty. Under the terms of the Treaty, it is required to meet at least twice each year, unless the parties agree otherwise. The New START Treaty entered into force on February 5, and implementation of the treaty is well underway. At the BCC meeting, the United States and Russia will coordinate and discuss technical issues related to the implementation of the Treaty.
April 2: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: After six weeks of intensive work with the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS), American director and choreographer David Swan and GITIS students will produce and stage an American musical, “Once On This Island,” a piece which explores race relations and appeared on Broadway for over a year.
April 3 – April 15: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: Six representatives from the Baseball Federation of St. Petersburg will travel to five American cities to help launch a new “Helping Baseball Take Root in Russia” program. The program will start in Washington, D.C., where participants will meet with government officials at the U.S. Department of State to discuss opportunities for sports exchanges. The delegation will then travel to Baltimore and Aberdeen, Maryland, to visit the Cal Ripken Academy and explore baseball training techniques at a sports medicine clinic; to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to visit Little League Headquarters and home of the annual Little League World Series; and to New York City to visit the headquarters of Major League Baseball International and to meet with city officials to discuss the local government’s role in providing access for youth to baseball facilities and programs. Watch footage from the July 2009 Russian Baseball Championship in St. Petersburg produced by the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg.
April 6-8: Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group: Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce Michelle O’Neill will travel to Moscow to meet with her counterpart Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Slepnev. U/S O’Neill will also meet with the heads of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, the U.S.-Russia Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, and with various business leaders to learn more about Russia’s Federal Procurement system and to discuss new export opportunities for U.S. companies in Russia. In conjunction with the Working Group, the U.S.-Russia Business Council will also join the Skolkovo Foundation in hosting a seminar on “Skolkovo and the Innovation Agenda.”
April 6 – April 13: Energy Working Group: A delegation from the Russian Interregional Distribution Grid Company (MRSK) will visit San Francisco and San Diego to advance city-to-city partnerships on Smart Grid technology and to develop opportunities for partnerships with American technology companies involved in Smart Grid research and development, including Cisco, Intel, People Power, OSISoft, and Qualcomm.
April 8 - Health Working Group: A seminar on alcoholism prevention, organized jointly by the Russian Federal Public Health Research Institute and the U.S. National Institute of Health, will take place in Moscow. Entitled "Prevention of Alcohol Problems in Health Care and Community Settings," the discussion will focus on topics such as the prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol screening and intervention in health care settings, as well as the prevention of underage drinking. Participating experts will also discuss future collaboration on projects in these areas.
April 10 – April 15: Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group: The Small Business Administration (SBA) will host a delegation from the Russian Ministry of Economic Development (MED) in Detroit and Pittsburgh for an exchange on small business’s role in local industrial re-structuring. The delegation, which includes mayors from various Russian regions and government officials from MED, will tour industrial sites and local business venues, and will have the opportunity to meet with the mayors of both cities.
April 11: Defense Relations Working Group: The Enhanced Missile Defense Sub-Group will meet in Geneva to discuss next steps on missile defense cooperation. The U.S. delegation will be led by Dr. James Miller, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoliy Antonov will lead the Russian delegation.
April 11-12: Emergency Situations Working Group: FEMA Administrator Fugate and Russian Emergency Situations Minister Shoigu will preside over a Working Group meeting in Boston. The Co-chairs will review the progress of the working group, as well as set the agenda for future cooperation, particularly in the fields of collaboration on the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference’s (APEC) Emergency Preparedness Working Group and in third country disaster assistance.
Arms Control and International Security Working Group: Following up on their talks in Moscow on March 10, Under Secretary Tauscher and Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov presided over a meeting in Brussels on March 26 to exchange views on missile defense cooperation and other arms control and nonproliferation issues.
Defense Relations Working Group: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Russia’s Minister of Defense Anatoliy Serdyukov met in Moscow on March 23 to discuss defense reforms under way in both nations, as well as missile defense cooperation, relations with NATO, and New START treaty follow-up issues. Secretary Gates also met with President Medvedev. In addition to his official meetings, Secretary Gates also spoke to students from the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in St. Petersburg.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Russia's Minister of Defense Anatoliy Serdyukov chair a meeting of the Defense Relations Working Group in Moscow. (U.S. Embassy Moscow)
Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group: On March 23, ROSATOM General Director Sergei Kiriyenko and Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman met in Washington, D.C. and announced an agreement which extends cooperation on nuclear security between the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Russian Federal Environmental, Industrial, and Nuclear Supervision Service (Rostechnadzor) for an additional seven years. Deputy Secretary Poneman remarked that, “This agreement and NNSA’s ongoing work with Russia are vital to reducing international nuclear threats and implementing President Obama's ambitious nuclear security agenda.”
Read the NNSA Press Release.
Counternarcotics Working Group: Working Group Co-Chairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Gil Kerlikowske and Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) Director Viktor Ivanov chaired a working group meeting in Moscow on March 24. Participants included representatives from respective health, foreign affairs, education, law enforcement, and treasury agencies. The sides reviewed the Working Group’s progress and exchanged views on strengthening law enforcement cooperation, countering illicit finance proceeds from narco-trafficking, and collaborating on drug prevention and treatment programs. Both directors pledged to continue joint operations to target narco-traffickers moving drugs and illicit revenues from Afghanistan. Minister of Education and Science Fursenko also attended the meeting to underscore the importance of education in the drug abuse prevention process. Following a discussion of school drug prevention programs, the working group co-chairs hosted a roundtable discussion with Russian youth at Moscow State University, which focused on drug prevention education with an emphasis on youth. See Press Release.
Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske (right) and Russian Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Ivanov shake hands after the meeting of the Counternarcotics Working Group. (U.S. Embassy Moscow)
Health Working Group: Officials from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) met with Russian counterparts March 20-25 to prepare for Russia’s first Reproductive Health Survey scheduled to begin later this year. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), CDC is working with officials from the Russian State Statistics agency, Rosstat, to develop, implement, and analyze this ambitious survey that will provide high quality, population-based data about reproductive health indicators. The results of the national survey are expected before the end of 2011.
Under Secretary Hormats in Moscow: Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Andrey Denisov, on March 24 in Moscow for the fourth round of their strategic economic dialogue. In nearly four hours of talks, the meeting covered Russia’s WTO and OECD accession processes, Jackson-Vanik, next steps in the Bilateral Presidential Commission, bilateral investment, and cooperation in APEC. Additionally, both sides reiterated support for Russia’s WTO accession and “graduation” from Jackson-Vanik.
Presidential Telephone Call: On March 24, President Obama and President Medvedev spoke by phone to discuss a wide range of issues in U.S.-Russia relations. The two presidents discussed developments in the Middle East at length, with a particular focus on Libya. President Obama expressed his appreciation for Russia’s support for the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and subsequent positive statements that President Medvedev has made regarding the resolution’s mandate. The two presidents also discussed the new momentum in Russia’s progress towards joining the World Trade Organization this year. President Obama affirmed his support for Russia’s accession into the WTO this year and also affirmed his commitment to work with the U.S. Congress to terminate the application of Jackson-Vanik to Russia and establish Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with Russia. The two presidents also discussed recent progress made in developing deeper cooperation on missile defense. President Obama affirmed why the United States believes that cooperation with Russia on missile defense could enhance the security of the United States, Russia, our allies, and our partners. The two presidents agreed to meet on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Deauville, France at the end of May. See the White House Release.