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Diplomacy in Action

U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission: Monthly Look-Ahead and Wrap-Up

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
July 25, 2011


Look Ahead

July 29-August 30: Education, Sports, Media, and Culture Working Group: In Khabarovsk, a photo exhibit entitled “Jam Session: America's Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World” will open. The exhibit will feature images of renowned performers—such as Count Basie, Charlie Byrd, Benny Carter, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Randy Weston and others—and their travels around the world.

August 1-6: Civil Society Working Group: The first Russian-American Child Welfare Forum, initiated by Russian specialists working as part of the Child Protection Sub-Group, will be held near Lake Baikal in Buryatia. The Forum will pair local child welfare service providers in Russia with leading Russian and American specialists to tackle the most serious issues confronting child protection and child welfare today. Special attention will be paid to the role of civil society in protecting children’s rights through early detection of child abuse, prevention practices, risk assessment, and family-based forms of care. Victim assistance will be a major focus. Child pornography, prostitution, pedophilia, and work on missing and exploited children will also be addressed. The goal of the Forum is to create a lasting platform for discussion that brings together experts in both countries for dialogue and exchange on an annual basis. For more information, please visit the Forum web-site at

Late July-early August: Military Cooperation Working Group: The USS Carr (FFG-52, a guided missile frigate) will visit the Russian port of Baltiysk, in Kaliningrad Oblast. This will be the first ever visit of a U.S. Navy vessel to Kaliningrad Oblast.

August 8-17: Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group: Rosatom Deputy Director General Pershukov will travel to the U.S. for meetings at the U.S. Department of Energy, several national laboratories, and universities.

August 16-21: Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group: MAKS 2011, the 10th International Aviation and Space Salon, will take place in Zhukovsky, Russia. MAKS is the largest aerospace show in Russia bringing together Russian and international industry leaders to showcase aviation products and services from around the world. Thirteen U.S. organizations and aerospace companies will have exhibits and a variety of U.S. military aircraft will be on static display.

Previous Events Wrap-Up

Coordinators Meeting: BPC Coordinators Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov met in Washington, D.C. on July 13. In addition to announcing an agreement on visa liberalization and signing an adoptions agreement, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov reviewed cooperation under the Commission and highlighted the two newest working groups: on Innovation and Rule of Law. They also announced a new Air Navigation Services agreement, exchanged diplomatic notes to bring into force the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (see below), and signed a protocol to extend research on the effects of radiation. For further information on the meeting and agreements, please click here.

Date: 07/13/2011 Description: Secretary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov held a joint press availability and a signing ceremony, at the Department of State. - State Dept Image
Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary Clinton exchange Diplomatic Notes, July 13. (Photo Credit: U.S. State Department)

Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: 

  • Mikhail Gusman of ITAR-TASS News Agency interviewed Secretary Clinton on June 24 for a documentary on the U.S. government. The project was developed in the Media Sub-Group, and will explain to Russian viewers how the U.S. government and our democracy operate.

    View the transcript of Mr Gusman’s interview with Secretary Clinton.
  • The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the world’s most-celebrated modern dance troupes, wowed Russian audiences with a program centered on its popular dance piece “Revelations,” and kicked off the U.S. government-sponsored “American Seasons” in Russia. After six performances in Moscow’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, the troupe traveled to St. Petersburg. “American Seasons” is designed to bring a wide spectrum of U.S. cultural offerings to the Russian public by introducing contemporary artists from the United States.  
  • Acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary McBride dazzled Russian audiences in Tula, Kaluga, Moscow’s Tsaritsino Open Air Festival, Tomsk, and Novosibirsk. She also performed at the July 4th reception at Spaso House, providing over 1,500 guests with a true taste of America.

Date: 07/04/2011 Description: Mary McBride performs at the July 4th reception at Spaso House. ©  U.S. Embassy Moscow photo
Mary McBride performs at the July 4th reception at Spaso House. (Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)

  • July 5-19: Twenty American boys and girls, ages 14-17, and four coaches traveled to Russia for a basketball exchange. Partnering with USA Basketball and the Russian Basketball Federation, the State Department’s SportsUnited Office initiated the fifth sports exchange under the Commission, during which the group traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg and met with Russian Minister of Sports Vitaliy Mutko as well as the Russian Men’s National Basketball team. The delegation also met members of the Russian delegation that came to the D.C. area in May 2010 through a previous exchange. 

Date: 07/05/2011 Description: U.S. and Russian basketball players train together. - State Dept Image
U.S. and Russian basketball players train together. (Photo Credit: U.S. State Department)

  • The MOMIX Dance Company, also participating in the “American Seasons” series of cultural events, conducted a master class at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture and performed at Moscow’s Teatr Tereza Durova as part of the Chekhov Theater Festival. To view the promotional video for MOMIX’s “Botanica” performance, please click here.

Date: 2011 Description: MOMIX graces audiences with Botanica. © Photo courtesy of Max Pucciariello
MOMIX graces audiences with Botanica. (Photo Credit: Max Pucciariello)

  • Through the end of August, a recently-opened photo exhibit in Vladivostok called “High in the Depth” featuring the lives and works of three well-known Vladivostok artists by an American photographer and Fulbright Professor Victoria Crayhon. This project, encompassing both photography and a documentary film, demonstrates the true essence of people-to-people diplomacy: people from different countries appreciating one another’s artwork and sharing values of love of home and country. 

Date: 2011 Description: Photo and Film Exhibit at Premier Museum in Vladivostok. ©  U.S. Consulate Vladivostok photo
Photo and Film Exhibit at Premier Museum in Vladivostok. (Photo Credit: U.S. Consulate Vladivostok)

Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group:

  • On June 6-7, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative hosted the seventh annual U.S.-Russia Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) Meeting for the Russian-origin Fuel Return Program in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Dave Huizenga, Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation and Ivan Kamenskikh, First Deputy Director General of Rosatom, co-chaired the meeting in which participants discussed the current status of the program and upcoming shipments of Highly Enriched Uranium to Russia. The JCC was immediately followed by a Lessons Learned Workshop that included participants from over 15 countries and the IAEA who have participated in the Russian-origin Fuel Return Program.
  • On June 8-9, the U.S. and Russian National Academies of Science held a “Russian-American Symposium on the Conversion of Research Reactors to Low Enriched Uranium Fuel” in Moscow to discuss opportunities and technical challenges for the conversion of research reactors in Russia and the United States. Addresses by NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino and Rosatom Deputy Director General Vyacheslav Pershukov were the symposium’s highlight, which had over 75 attendees from the Russian and U.S. governments, Academies of Science, and technical organizations.
  • The Co-Chairs of the Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Rosatom General Director Sergey Kiriyenko, held a bilateral meeting in Vienna on the margins of the IAEA Nuclear Safety Conference on June 20-21.
  • Anne Harrington, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration and co-coordinator of the WG, traveled to Moscow from June 23-29 to participate in the International Science and Technology Center’s Governing Board meeting. While in Moscow, she also conducted bilateral meetings with her Russian counterparts to advance a number of WG activities.
  • July 13 marked the formal entry into force of the amended Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA). The amended Agreement commits each country to dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of excess weapon-grade plutonium, beginning in 2018, by irradiating the plutonium as mixed oxide (MOX) fuel in nuclear power reactors. The material to be disposed under the Agreement is enough for 17,000 nuclear weapons.

Energy Working Group: To follow up on the signing of a Smart-Grid Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the cities of San Diego and Belgorod, a delegation from the city of San Diego and the San Diego Gas & Electric utility company traveled to Russia from June 14-18. The delegation met with officials from the city of Belgorod and from the Russian Interregional Distribution Grid Company (MRSK) to develop an action plan that encompasses the priority areas of cooperation agreed to under the MOU. The Russian side is now preparing the first draft of the action plan.

Space Cooperation Working Group: A Russian delegation, led by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), traveled to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to view the last Space Shuttle launch (STS-135) on July 8, 2011. Some members of the delegation also toured the Kennedy Space Center on the margins of the launch activities.

Military Cooperation Working Group:

  • From June 13-17, the Air Attaché from Embassy Moscow escorted a Russian Air Force delegation led by General Colonel Sergei Dmitrievich Bainetov, Chief of the Russian Federation Armed Forces Aviation Safety Service to the U.S. Air Force Safety Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, at the request of the Russian delegation.
  • During June 27-28 the Russian Air Force hosted representatives of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe for the first U.S.-Russia Air Force staff talks.
  • The European Command Judge Advocate General and a delegation of military judges visited the Russian Armed Forces Main Military Prosecutor’s Office in Moscow June 14-16. The European Command Judge Advocate General then hosted a delegation from the Main Legal Department of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Stuttgart, Germany June 27-30.
  • During late June and early July, the USS Carr visited Saint Petersburg for the International Maritime Defense Symposium, while the USS Ford (FFG-54, also a frigate) visited Vladivostok. 

Date: 06/2011 Description: Sailors man the rails as the USS FORD (FFG-54) pulls into the Port of Vladivostok next to RFS Varyag, flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet. © U.S. Consulate Vladivostok photo
Sailors man the rails as the USS FORD (FFG-54) pulls into the Port of Vladivostok next to RFS Varyag, flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet. (Photo Credit: U.S. Consulate Vladivostok)

  • On July 7, the Russian Ground Forces hosted a small delegation from the U.S. Army to conduct a steering committee meeting in anticipation of the first U.S.-Russia Army Staff Talks in December of 2011.
  • Russian and U.S. officers met in Garmisch, Germany July 13-14 to discuss and coordinate the military-to-military work plan for 2012.

Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group:

  • The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Commerce hosted a Russian delegation, led by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, July 6-8. They discussed standards issues and technical regulations, particularly in the construction, chemistry, and food industries. The delegation enjoyed a visit to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, meetings with U.S. private-sector industry representatives, and learning how standards formation in the United States informs the country’s regulatory system.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) organized a visit of several Russian economic officials and mayors to Detroit and Pittsburgh during the week of June 26 around the themes of economic transition, industrial restructuring, local economic development, and small business. The delegation met with local officials, university staff, NGOs, and the business community to share best practices. Small business was highlighted in a broad range of sectors including life/medical sciences, traditional and advanced manufacturing, neighborhood development, and even a vodka distillery. The Russian delegates appreciated the visits to Detroit and Pittsburgh since the former is being challenged to find ways to adjust and gain new industries while the latter has gone through a successful restructuring of its economy. They also drew parallels to Russia where many cities have experienced declines in their traditional economic base.

Emergency Situations Working Group:

  • From June 27-July 1, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) hosted an international team of disaster relief specialists to observe and assess their live field exercises and disaster relief simulations as they pursued the highest classification of the United Nation’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). EMERCOM succeeded in earning INSARAG status, a significant achievement resulting from two years of interagency cooperation, with direct involvement by both FEMA and United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Ever since EMERCOM announced its desire for INSARAG classification in 2009, the Working Group has supported its efforts with site visits to Fairfax County’s Search and Rescue Team, a table-top exercise in Moscow to compare search-and-rescue best practices, and regular consultations with U.S. and international disaster response officials. With the new INSARAG classification, Russia will be better able to coordinate disaster assistance with other responders, and will be recognized internationally as having state-of-the-art procedures and practices.
  • The 15th annual meeting of U.S.-Russia Joint Committee on Emergency Management and the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Bilateral Presidential Commission Working Group on Cooperation in Emergency Management took place in Boston, Massachusetts, July 18-19. The group discussed a whole community approach to disaster preparedness and response and held a panel discussion on lessons learned from recent international disaster responses, including the Haiti and Japan earthquake/tsunami. Additionally, they discussed lessons learned from the 2010 Russian wildfires as well as current trends and opportunities for cooperation in the field of mass transportation security.

Environmental Working Group: Daniel Reifsnyder, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), recently participated in the 16th Meeting of the Russian American Pacific Partnership in Kamchatka with Nuritdin Inamov, his Russian counterpart within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE). This unique two-day forum brought together businesses, regional and federal government officials, and non-government officials to discuss deepening cooperation in such diverse areas as transportation, fisheries, tourism, energy, protected areas, and wildlife conservation. John McCaslin of the Department of Commerce co-chaired the conference and OES Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Environment and Sustainable Development Reifsnyder led the U.S. delegation for the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC). While in the Russian Far East, Reifsnyder also met with other MNRE counterparts, including Deputy Minister Donskoy, to highlight the cooperative efforts of the BPC for local government officials, such as the Governor of Kamchatskiy Krai, as well as representatives of indigenous peoples and NGOs. He also reviewed joint efforts to save the Amur Tigers and Far Eastern Leopards in Primorskiy Krai and prevent illegal logging in Khabarovsk. Reifsnyder discussed our BPC cooperation on the environment with local media. His visit marked the first Environmental Working Group activity involving top leadership in the Russian Far East.

Date: 2011 Description: Deputy Assistant Secretary Reifsnyder addresses the plenary session about the cooperation taking place between the U.S. and Russia under the auspices of the U.S.-Russia BPC's Environmental Working Group. - State Dept Image
DAS Reifsnyder addresses the plenary session about the cooperation taking place between the U.S. and Russia under the auspices of the U.S.-Russia BPC’s Environmental Working Group.

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