After several years of crisis in U.S.-Russia relations, the best way to bring together experts, business professionals and diplomats is still a well-balanced approach that respects the views and goals of both sides.
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, right prior to the opening session of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. Photo: AP
A note to readers from the new editor-in-chief
Three years ago, when Russia Direct was started, the crisis in U.S.-Russia relations was not so evident, but there were some warning signs of an upcoming rupture – such as the case of whistleblower Edward Snowden and differences over the war in Syria and the future of President Bashar al-Assad. Then, in 2013-2014, the Ukrainian crisis finally led to outright confrontation between the U.S. and Russia.
It was during these first signs of crisis in U.S.-Russia relations that a team of young journalists and professionals teamed up to launch a new analytical media outlet, Russia Direct. Its goal was to build bridges between Russian and American expert communities — to convert two monologues into one dialogue.
How Russia Direct got started in 2013. Video by Pavel Inzhelevsky and Chris McMorrow.
This goal was and is still very relevant, as indicated by the following events in 2014 and 2015. They exposed deep-seated, dormant and long-standing contradictions in U.S.-Russia relations and the current international system.
So, Russia Direct was launched at the right time and in the right place. After all, foreign journalists and pundits have always seen Russia and its decision-making process as obscure and full of secrecy. There was demand for a publication that could help them understand Russia and its motives in the foreign policy arena.
After the incorporation of Crimea, military escalation in the Donbas region and the Kremlin’s military operation in Syria, this became even more obvious, with experts puzzled – and even rather surprised - by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy overtures.
Today, U.S.-Russia relations are still facing a lot of challenges and, hopefully, Russia Direct will be able to alleviate these tensions. From the initial launch of Russia Direct, we expected our publication to shed light on the Kremlin’s decision-making, its domestic and foreign politics and to be a reliable and well-balanced source for those who are interested in Russia, including those who teach and study Russian Studies in universities.
Most importantly, we have been trying to bring Russian and foreign experts together and create a reliable platform for the exchange of opinions. Thanks to the efforts of Russia Direct’s former Editor-in-Chief Ekaterina Zabrovskaya and her editorial team, the publication achieved notable results and succeeded in building a robust audience.
In this regard, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to our audience members who keep reading Russia Direct. I hope you will be with us in the future, and we will do our utmost to be as balanced and objective as possible in this difficult time.
It is essential for Moscow-Washington bilateral relations. Personal chemistry between Russians and Americans does exist. And Russia Direct, like an experienced chemist, will try to maintain the chemistry on a safe level, so as not to have any explosions in the laboratory. Likewise, we will avoid imposing a certain agenda, and, instead, keep bringing together different opinions, comparing and contrasting them, so that our readers can come up with their own conclusions.
Pavel Koshkin is the Editor-in-Chief of Russia Direct. He has contributed to numerous publications, including Kommersant, the Moscow bureau of BBC, Russia Profile and Russia Beyond The Headlines (RBTH), specializing in politics, society, education and international relations. He has a Ph.D. in international journalism from Lomonosov Moscow State University (MGU).