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Putin's Russia - Partner or Adversary?

September 19, 2013

John Beyrle, U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2008-2012)

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Obama and Putin meetingIn the more than two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, conflicts between Russia and the U.S. have sharpened as Russia has sought to re-assert its status on the world stage. In 1999, a relatively unknown Vladimir Putin was hand-picked by Boris Yeltsin to succeed him as Russia's new President. In the subsequent eight years as President, followed by four years as Prime Minister and now a new six-year term as President, Putin has emerged as an authoritarian but popular leader who is able — indeed eager — to stand up to the West. The difficult dialogue with Putin over Syria, arms control, missile defense, NATO expansion and a host of bilateral issues including adoptions suggests that a truly cooperative relationship with Russia remains a complicated goal.

John Beyrle served as U.S. Ambassador in Moscow from 2008 to 2012, overseeing the effort to "reset" U.S.-Russian relations. Under his leadership, the U.S. and Russia signed:

  • the new START nuclear arms reduction agreement
  • an agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and
  • an agreement reducing visa restrictions and providing better monitoring of adoptions.

U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle speaks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry MedvedevRussia permitted the United States to use its airspace to supply our forces in Afghanistan and cooperation between Russian agencies and the US DEA, Homeland Security and the FBI increased significantly.

The U.S. and Russia carried out several joint military exercises, and for the first time U.S. soldiers marched in the parade on Red Square marking the end of World War II. This milestone holds special significance because Ambassador Beyrle's late father, SSGT Joseph Beyrle, may have been the only soldier to have served in both the US and Soviet Armies in the fight against the Nazis. Read more »

John BeyerleAmbassador Beyrle was born in Muskegon, Mich., received his B.A. at Grand Valley State University and later went on to study Russian at Middlebury College and to earn an M.A. at the National War College. As a U.S. diplomat, he served as Ambassador to Bulgaria, as a negotiator on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) delegation, and as Political/Economic Counselor in Prague. He also served two earlier tours in Moscow and in senior positions in Washington, including as a member of the National Security Council at the White House. He currently serves on the board of directors of the US Russia Foundation »