Charap: When the US and Russia work together, they can accomplish things no two other countries can

PONARS Eurasia
09 May 2018

(NYTimes) he strangest Russian political scandal so far this year — a year that hasn’t lacked for them — revolves around a Belarusian escort named Anastasia Vashukevich, who goes by the name Nastya Rybka. Rybka, whose pseudonym means “little fish,” is a prolific Instagrammer, a teacher of “sex workshops” and the author of a how-to book, “Who Wants to Seduce a Billionaire?” She became famous in Russia this year for having chronicled, on Instagram, her 2016 affair with one particular billionaire, Oleg Deripaska. A few weeks later, she caught the world’s attention after she was arrested in Thailand in the middle of a sex workshop and then claimed, from the back of a police van, that she possessed information that could blow the investigation into Russian meddling in the American presidential election wide open. [...]

Sam Charap, at RAND, says that the postelection political climate has made it impossible to work with Russia even on issues that would benefit both sides. “When the U.S. and Russia work together, they can accomplish things no two other countries can. The only reason we were able to kill bin Laden is that the Northern Distribution Network was set up! McFaul did that. And he had to deal with a lot of people saying: ‘Why are we talking to these people? They’re never going to stick to their agreements.’ [...]

Charap, at RAND, puts it most succinctly: “The threshold for bad stuff happening in the Russia-U.S. relationship is pretty high. Like, nuclear Armageddon. That’s low probability,” he says. “But high impact." [...]

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