U.S. Park Officials Visit Persian Leopards in Protected Areas in Southern Russia
A delegation from the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Embassy visited four protected areas (including the Caucasus Zapovednik Nature Reserve) on Russia’s Black Sea coast, October 23-November 1. Their visit reciprocated similar travel of Russian park managers to the United States last February, and was arranged by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE). In addition to discussions with reserve directors and staff, the U.S. visitors spoke with the areas’ scientists and rangers, visited sites of interest—such as a Persian leopard reintroduction project—and brainstormed opportunities for cooperation and exchange in the future. The Russian hosts noted their interest in learning more about grant writing, how to attract U.S. scientists and student interns to work in the parks, and public outreach and environmental education. Russian participants were also interested in the impact of Olympic construction on natural systems; the U.S. delegation plans to follow-up with information about the U.S. experience with the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. (Environment WG)
Top Russian and U.S. Officials Meet Once Again on Counternarcotics Cooperation
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director R. Gil Kerlikowske hosted a Russian delegation in Chicago, Illinois, for the fifth meeting of the BPC Counternarcotics Working Group. Viktor Ivanov, Director of the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), led the Russian delegation, which included several Russian senior staff members. U.S. participants included Administrator Michele Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield, Raisa Sheynberg from the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the Department of the Treasury, and Robert Lubran from the Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
On November 16, the co-chairs and attendees received updates covering the Working Group’s activities in the areas of illicit finance, law enforcement cooperation, and demand reduction since the last plenary session in March 2011 in Moscow as well as an update on the Central Asia Counternarcotics Initiative (CACI). Afterward, participants attended a presentation on the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program at John Stroger Hospital in the Chicago Medical District. The following day included presentations focused on a family-based drug treatment program at the Haymarket Center and a law enforcement meeting at the DEA Chicago Field Division. An emphasis on prevention was maintained throughout both days’ events. Click here to read the co-chairmen’s joint statement. (Counternarcotics WG)
Bilateral Statement on Innovation Cooperation Signed for New Working Group
On November 11, Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats and Russian Presidential Advisor Arkadiy Dvorkovich met on the margins of the APEC Ministerial meeting in Hawaii and signed a Statement of Intent to launch the BPC’s Innovation Working Group. The two sides agreed to cooperate and share best practices on developing a legal framework for innovative entrepreneurship; developing innovation centers and regional innovative clusters; and supporting commercialization of innovative breakthroughs. The first full meeting of the Working Group is slated to take place in March 2012 in Silicon Valley. (Innovation WG)
Americans Captivate Vladivostok International Jazz Festival
Consulate General Vladivostok brought American legendary fusion jazz drummer Billy Cobham and his band to the November 9-13 Vladivostok International Jazz Festival. Jazz bands from Russia, France, Italy, and the United States performed every evening during the festival. The highlight of the festival was the Billy Cobham Band, whose impeccable groove wowed the standing-room-only audience. (Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group, ECSM WG)
U.S. Student Leaders Visit Moscow, Meet Top U.S. and Russian Officials
The Russian Youth Agency brought over a third group of U.S. student body presidents. The student leaders toured cultural landmarks around Moscow, visited Moscow State University to interact with peers, and attended meetings with various top Russian government officials, including Presidential Advisor Arkadiy Dvorkovich and First Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov. The group also visited the U.S. Embassy, where Embassy personnel described life and work in Russia and briefed the students on the key issues on the U.S.-Russia bilateral agenda. This exchange built on the successful visits of two prior groups of U.S. student body presidents in November 2010 and March 2011. (ECSM WG)
Urals, Western Siberia host United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Concert Band
As part of the “American Seasons” year-long cultural program, the USAFE Concert Band performed during October 24-31 to sold-out audiences in the Ural and Western Siberian cities of Perm, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Tagil, and Kamensk Uralskiy. The USAFE band’s visit garnered the attention of local media outlets and marked the first-ever performance of a joint U.S.-Russian military band in Yekaterinburg. (ECSM WG)
Russia-U.S. Joint Staff Talks
General Lieutenant Vladimir Zarudnitskiy, chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, accompanied by a Russian delegation, met for the first time with his U.S. counterpart, Lieutenant General Terry Wolff, the Director of Joint Staff J-5. Their November 7-10 discussions laid a foundation for further cooperation, and included a visit to Fort Benning, Georgia, the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Warfare Center of Excellence. (Military Cooperation WG)
Second Meeting of the Logistics Cooperation Group Held on U.S. East Coast
On November 9-10, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Material Readiness Alan Estevez hosted Lieutenant General Sergey Zhirov, Chief of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) Logistics Planning and Coordination Department, for the second meeting of the Logistics Cooperation Sub-Working Group. The first day’s events took place in the Pentagon and consisted of sharing logistical best practices and discussions on the Russian MoD’s current efforts to reorganize its military logistics system to reflect today’s organization and missions. On the second day, Gen. Zhirov and his staff visited the Defense Logistics Agency’s large New Cumberland Distribution Center in Pennsylvania. The Russian MoD delegation met with the Center's leadership and saw firsthand how the Defense Department provides logistical support around the globe. The co-chairs agreed to continue their dialogue on logistics cooperation, including further discussions on establishing an Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), and to explore the possibility of Russian MoD participation in bilateral or multilateral exercises that emphasize logistical interoperability. (Defense Relations WG)
Russian, U.S. Sides Come Together for First Meeting of Maritime Cooperation Group
The Russian Federation Navy hosted the inaugural meeting of the Maritime Cooperation Sub-Working Group in Moscow on November 10. The U.S. delegation was chaired by Rear Admiral Ken Norton, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Resources, and Plans for U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, with assistance from Ann Dailey of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy. Rear Admiral Vasiliy Lyashok, Chief of the Russian Navy’s Development and Planning Directorate, represented Russia. Discussions centered on the general structure and agenda for the group going forward. In addition to traditional maritime roles and missions such as submarine rescue, counter-piracy, and Arctic security, the U.S. delegation proposed a future focus on broader maritime security issues, including (but not limited to) law enforcement on the high seas, trafficking in persons, and port security. The delegates agreed to convene the next meeting in late-spring 2012. (Defense Relations WG)
FSKN Chemists Visit DEA Laboratory
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosted two chemists from the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) in the Washington, D.C. area, November 14-18. The Russian visitors met their DEA counterparts and toured the Special Testing Laboratory in Dulles, Virginia. The group attended a course on the laboratory analysis of controlled substances and emerging trends in testing methods. (Counternarcotics WG)
U.S. and Russian Naval Chiefs Jointly Attend International Sea Power Symposium
Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy, Chief of the Russian Federation Navy, attended the 20th Annual International Seapower Symposium in Newport, Rhode Island, October 17-20, where he met Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the new U.S. Chief of Naval Operations. This is the first time that the head of Russia’s Navy has participated in the annual symposium, which continues to offer unique opportunities to build personal relationships between U.S. Navy leaders and their Russian counterparts. (Military Cooperation WG)
Russian and U.S. Nuclear Officials Meet
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) held a Joint Sustainability Working Group meeting in Moscow, October 6-7. The meeting focused on the future of the Joint Material Protection Control and Accounting Transition Plan, which laid out the necessary steps to upgrade and maintain security at numerous sites in Russia where usable nuclear material is stored. The two sides also developed new guidance for site and project teams involved in the program. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)
Insider Threat Training Held in Moscow
The National Nuclear Security Administaion’s (NNSA) Office of International Material Protection and Cooperation conducted a one-week training seminar on Insider Threat Identification and Mitigation in Moscow the week of October 31. The workshop focused on the analysis of abrupt and protracted insider theft scenarios and appropriate threat mitigation measures. Participants included Material Protection Control and Accounting managers, generalists, and specialists with expertise in vulnerability assessment and effectiveness evaluation. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)
First Meeting between Commerce Secretary and Minister of Economic Development
Newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson met Russian Minister for Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina in Hawaii on November 11 during the 2011 APEC Ministerial. This marked the first meeting of these two co-chairs of the BPC Working Group on Business Development and Economic Relations. They discussed the transition of APEC chairmanship from the United States in 2011 to Russia in 2012, and lauded recent progress toward the goal of Russian membership in the World Trade Organization. (Business Development and Economic Relations WG)
Working Group Coordinators Hold Wide-Ranging Videoconference
On October 27, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Michelle O’Neill held a videoconference with her Russian counterpart, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Andrey Slepnev. Both serve as co-coordinators for the BPC’s Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group. The parties discussed the Working Group’s plan of action—including customs cooperation and small businesses—as well as standards cooperation, upcoming trade missions, government procurement, and market access issues. (Business Development and Economic Relations WG)
Green Energy Sector Russian Delegation Participates in Training Exchange
Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce Michelle O’Neill met with delegates from the U.S.-Russia Presidential Management Training Exchange Program on October 28. The delegates are owners or executives of Russian companies in the green energy sector. Their three-week program was implemented under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by then-Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Minister of Economic Development Nabiullina in November 2010. This visit follows a similar exchange focused on the information technology sector earlier this fall. (Business Development and Economic Relations WG)
Clean Energy Technologies Experts Interact via Videoconference
During a videoconference on November 10, Dr. William Brinkman, Director of the DOE Office of Science, and Academician Vladimir Yevgenyevich Fortov, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for High Energy Density, reviewed the progress of the joint projects adopted by the Clean Energy Sub-Working Group. The Group’s research areas include materials, terrestrial arctic permafrost, biofuels, and hydrogen and fuel cells. (Energy WG)
Roundtable Highlights International Energy Week
Russian and U.S. energy companies held a roundtable meeting on October 24 to discuss the opportunities and barriers related to increasing energy efficiency in Russia. As part of the Sixth International Energy Week in Moscow, government and international business leaders met to discuss Russia’s role in ensuring European energy security, climate change implications in the energy sector, and international collaboration related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Jonathan Hale delivered welcoming remarks at roundtable and the following day co-chaired a panel discussion focused on the innovative roles that government, science, and business can play in improving energy efficiency and developing renewables. (Energy WG)
U.S. and Russian Nuclear Experts Discuss Lab-to-Lab Cooperation
Representatives of U.S. DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Rosatom, and both agencies’ associated laboratories, met in Barcelona, Spain, October 23-28. Their agenda included ongoing discussions on expanded U.S.-Russian scientific and technical cooperation, a technical exchange between NNSA and Rosatom laboratories on engineering and materials at extreme conditions, and an executive planning session for future lab-to-lab interactions. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)
Nuclear Legacy a Focus of Moscow Conference
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Dave Huizenga visited Moscow from October 27 to November 1. While there, he attended a Rosatom-sponsored AtomEco conference and made a presentation on DOE programs that address nuclear legacy issues. He also held a number of bilateral consultations with Rosatom counterparts. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)
New Agreement Sustains U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Maternal and Child Health
The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Marion Burton, and the Director of the Kulakov Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Perinatology, Gennady Sukhikh signed a new agreement on cooperation in maternal and child health. This agreement builds on several years of cooperation between the two organizations, a relationship which has been strengthened by support from USAID programs such as the Improving Care for Mothers and Babies (2008-2010). Both sides will continue to advance the health and welfare of children and families through joint activities such as trainings, research projects, and medical conferences. (Health WG)
U.S. and Russian Health Working Group Representatives Work with Civil Society
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and the Ministry of Health and Social Development (MOHSD) participated in a meeting hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Moscow on November 15. At the meeting, the Carnegie-organized Public-Private Task Force on Health presented draft recommendations for bilateral collaboration in the areas of healthy lifestyles and prevention issues, strategic resource allocation, regulatory harmonization, and scientific research including technology transfer. (Health WG)
Health Working Group Coordinators Meet in Moscow
BPC Health Working Group co-coordinator Dr. Nils Daulaire met with his Russian counterpart, MOHSD Deputy Minister Veronika Skvortsova, on the margins of the U.S.-Russia Scientific Forum (below) on November 16. Dr. Daulaire conveyed HHS’s interest in joint work on tobacco control under the Healthy Lifestyles Subgroup, and recommended support for a World Health Organization (WHO) program on surveillance for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, for which NIH National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is providing technical assistance. He also encouraged exchange visits of MOHSD staff. The next day, Dr. Daulaire met with Oleg Chestnov, Deputy Director of the MOHSD International Department and Russian co-chair of the Global Health Subgroup. Their discussion included WHO reform, global malaria eradication, APEC, cooperation on tobacco control, and MOHSD support of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders surveillance. (Health WG)
NIH Staff Teach Clinical Research Course
National Institutes of Health (NIH) representatives conducted a “Principles and Practice of Clinical Research” course in Moscow, November 14-18. With more than 200 participants, the course was sponsored by a public-private partnership under the auspices of the Foundation for the NIH and took place at the Russian Kulakov Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Perinatology. Scientists and researchers from the NIH Clinical Center and other NIH components taught on the ethical principles of clinical research, biostatistics, and research in patients with rare diseases, tuberculosis, and alcohol abuse. The clinical research course mirrored the “train the trainee” model successfully implemented in other countries; attendees are expected to convey acquired knowledge to their colleagues at medical institutions across Russia, making use of materials available online. (Health WG)
U.S. and Russian Researchers Hold Joint Forum on Medical Sciences
The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) hosted the First Annual U.S.-Russia Scientific Forum, November 16-18. More than 150 U.S. and Russian researchers, representatives of the Ministry of Health and Social Development (MOHSD), and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences (RAMS) participated. A number of private companies that also took part (including Eli Lilly, Genzyme, Amway, and Abbott) had supported the Forum events through the Foundation for the NIH. Organizers and participants were drawn from several institutes and centers of the NIH, RAS, RAMS, and numerous other academic, clinical, and research institutions in the United States and Russia, such as Skolkovo. Forum sessions focused on research and collaboration potential in the categories of infectious diseases, healthy lifestyles, cancer, rare diseases, and human development. A corresponding session on brain sciences was conducted at the NIH on November 17. At the Forum’s conclusion, a panel discussion entitled “From Bench to Bedside” explored the many factors that shape the process of medical research and development. Organizers encouraged participants to be proactive in pursuing new U.S.-Russia partnerships. (Health WG)
Tuberculosis the Focus of International Workshop
Moscow’s International Science and Technology Center hosted an international workshop titled “Pediatric Multidrug Resistant Tuberculosis: Emerging Global Challenge,” November 14-15. Supported by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Petersburg Dialog, Smolensk oblast administration, and the Smolensk Medical Academy, the workshop brought together experts from the United States, Russia, WHO, former CIS countries, and elsewhere. After focusing on several aspects of Tuberculosis research and prevention, the meeting concluded with the presentation of a report entitled “The New Profile of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Russia,” which was the result of a workshop held in Moscow in May 2010 with support from the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. (Health WG)
RUSNANO Makes Major Investment
Plans were announced on October 27 for RUSNANO to invest $50 million in two leading U.S. nanomedicine research companies. The investments ($25 million to Selecta Biosciences and $25 million to BIND Biosciences) are intended to improve the development and commercialization of advanced vaccines and cancer drugs as well as a vaccine against nicotine addiction in Russia. On the occasion, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle said, “An alliance such as this between RUSNANO and Selecta and BIND exemplifies the goals of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission and represents an important opportunity for leaders in their respective fields from the Russian Federation and the United States to contribute to future progress and shared prosperity. Through this collaboration, we see tremendous potential to more rapidly globalize advanced technology from the United States by establishing operations in strategic international markets, such as here in the Russian Federation.” (Science and Technology WG)
U.S. and Russian Civil Society Leaders Gather at Moscow Conference
More than 70 representatives of the U.S. and Russian non-profit sectors participated in a November 14-15 conference, entitled “U.S. and Russian Civil Society: Deepening Partnerships,” as part of the USAID-supported Civil Society Partnership Program (CSPP). This three-year program, implemented by the Eurasia Foundation (United States) and the New Eurasia Foundation (Russia), focuses on priority areas for U.S.-Russia civil society collaboration. Its goal is to create sustainable mechanisms for the development and delivery of recommendations from citizens to policymakers through yearly conferences, a small grants competition, and the ongoing activities of its 11 working groups. At the conference, these groups created work plans and explored ideas for cross-thematic projects. Russian Presidential Human Rights Advisor Mikhail Fedotov and USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Roberta Mahoney gave opening remarks at the conference.
Women’s Reproductive Health Survey Results Released
Last month, the results of a 2010 USAID-supported survey were released; the survey polled 3,401 women on reproductive health issues. Its findings indicate the need to continue focusing on improving the quality of family planning, as well as counseling, in Russia to decrease abortion rates. A follow-up survey is planned for the fall of 2012. The survey is part of The Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS), launched in the early 1990s to monitor the effects of the sweeping social and economic reforms of the early post-Soviet period. USAID has been a major contributor to the RLMS since its early years.
Embassy Workshop Highlights Demand and Potential for Public-Private Partnerships
To further promote U.S.-Russia public-private partnerships, representatives of 11 ongoing USAID alliances—from Karelia to Khabarovsk—gathered at a partnership workshop at the U.S. Embassy on October 14. Among other topics, these alliances support projects that focus on vulnerable populations, entrepreneurship, and youth reproductive health. The workshop demonstrated that there is both demand and sufficient resources in the Russian regions for public-private alliances to play a bigger role in socioeconomic development. Participants noted that while local businesses are increasingly interested in supporting community initiatives, the success and sustainability of a partnership often depends on the ability of local NGOs to speak the same language as the business community, and whether they have a businesslike approach to problem solving.
Moscow Hosts Fourth RUSNANOTECH International Forum
This October 26-28 forum brought together prominent politicians and scientists, focusing on demand for innovation. Participants discussed ways to support innovation, including through infrastructure projects, education, financial instruments, mass media popularization, and interaction with the Russian Diaspora communities abroad. Representatives from about 400 companies participated in the event. Eric Drexler, an American engineer known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology, made a presentation to the plenary session.
Three-Year Agreement between MIT and Skolkovo Signed
Skolkovo President Victor Vekselberg and MIT President Susan Hokfild signed the agreement on cooperation in the development of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (SkTech) before President Medvedev on October 26. This new university will award Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in cross-cutting technological areas, as opposed to traditional academic disciplines. Research centers within SkTech will collaborate with Russian and foreign universities. An important element will be the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will feature both theoretical research and training in innovation and entrepreneurship.
November 22-December 1: U.S. choreographer and dancer Jesse Zarritt will give week-long series of master classes in Vladivostok.
November 25-28: American pianist and university music instructor Christopher Taylor will perform at Moscow’s International House of Music as part of the Art November Festival. Taylor won the bronze medal at the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
November 29-December 1: The U.S. Department of Justice and Russian Ministry of Justice will co-host a workshop in St. Petersburg on the U.S. Lacey Act and combating illegal logging and associated trade. A panel organized by the U.S. Forest Service will also focus on combating illegal logging through the use of new technologies.
November 30-December 1: U.S. Air Force Academy faculty will visit the Russian Federation Military Aviation Engineering University. A reciprocal visit by Russian faculty to the Air Force Academy is planned for December 13-14.
December 1: The Nanotechnology Sub-Working Group of the Science and Technology Working Group will hold a digital videoconference meeting.
December 7-January 29: A retrospective of award-winning U.S. photographer Ruth Orkin’s work will open at the Lumeire Brothers Gallery in Moscow and remain until late-January.
December 7-8: The Training, Education, and Human Resources Sub-Working Group of the Defense Relations Working Group will meet in San Antonio, Texas.
December 12: Vladimir Malinin, First Deputy Head of Russian Federal Customs Service, will travel to the United States during the week of December 12 in order to discuss future joint work on the NNSA Second Line of Defense program as well as visit the Los Alamos National Lab.
December 12-15: The first-ever U.S.-Russia Army Staff Talks will take place in Washington, D.C. Planned discussion topics include transformation in both armies, perceptions of the security situation in Eurasia, peacekeeping operations, and disaster relief.
Mid-December: The Education Sub-Working Group will convene in Washington, D.C., to discuss that status of current projects, possible negotiations on a non-binding umbrella agreement on education, and new initiatives. Minister Fursenko of the Russian Ministry of Science and Education and Ann Stock, Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, will meet separately.
December 13-14: U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold a Nanotechnology Standards Workshop in Washington, D.C., which Russian representatives of the Nanotechnology Sub-Working Group plan to attend and participate in.
December 15: Dr. John Holdren, U.S. Director of the Office of Science and Technology (White House), also will host Minister Fursenko.