University of Washington

U.S. Relations with Russia: Obama-Medvedev Bilateral Presidential Commission

Task Force Report
Expert Evaluation Presentation
Task Force Poster

This course was designed to allow students to simulate membership in a Presidential Advisory Commission on U.S. relations with Russia. After a brief review of academic and policy research literature, students examined four aspects of U.S.-Russian relations and their global impacts: 1) security/arms control, which reviews the status of bilateral cooperative efforts and disagreements in the area of international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and bilateral and multilateral arms control; 2) trade prospects and constraints, particularly approval of Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization and the need for revision of the Jackson-Vanik amendment; 3) regional conflicts in the "Near Abroad," and the Middle East, and the possibilities of harmonizing U.S. and Russian policies; and 4) human rights practices in Russia, and the impact of the war in Chechnya on U.S.-Russian relations.


Task Force Instructor

Robert Huber
Professor Huber is a specialist in Russian politics, Russian Foreign Policy, and Russian American Relations. He studied Political Science of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before continuing to complete an M.A. and Ph.D in International Relations at American University.

Expert Evaluator

Morris Jacobs

Morris Jacobs, currently Director for Corporate Affairs, PRO-telligent International (Privately Held; Information Technology and Services industry). Previously, as Senior Communications Advisor, US Department of State (PRO-telligent Contractor), advised the State Department's under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs on strategic planning, budgets, and policy priorities. BA in Russian Area Studies & Language, UC-Santa Barbara.




Stephen Carroll Gannon

Major: International Studies Track: International Development
Through observing and researching the modern, as well as historical, features of relations between the United States and another country, specifically Russia, has helped reveal levels of diplomatic intricacies and nuances that are not readily apparent without careful research and exploration. The process of task force is a crucial insight into the procedural workings of the professional field of policy.

Furthermore, as relations with Russia has been for some time an important world determinant, understanding the modern implications of this complex link will give support to my interest in and understanding of the global role of institutions, specifically in the intersections between institutional roles related to the four sub-group areas of our Task Force research; arms control and international security, business development and economic relations, civil society, and regional issues.


Task Force Members

Jennah Crotts

Major: International Studies
I hope to work on diplomacy and resource allocation in under developed and conflict ridden countries. My degree in Foreign Policy and Diplomacy is my first step on that path by helping me understand how the less fortunate are assisted by governments and non-governmental organizations. Within the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Relations Task Force, I have been concentrating on Human Rights and Civil Society. I am working to analyze how both the U.S. and Russia could benefit from coordination and exchange on topics that affect both nations; including the judicial system and discrimination and xenophobia. My favorite hobby is event planning, which I am currently combining with my career interests, by interning with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Seattle Guild. I am working on their upcoming Dream Gala raising money for a cure for diabetes, which also relates to the important contributions that civil society can have on the health of a nation!

Marisa Dyrcz

Major: International Studies
I am in the civil society subgroup of my American-Russian relations task force. Specifically, I am researching health issues in these countries. In light of the recent health care overhaul in the United States and Russia’s struggling health care system, both countries can learn from each other and work together to improve infrastructure. I am interested in promoting a successful “reset” in U.S.-Russia foreign policy by focusing on the commonalities these countries share in order to strengthen relations and improve the livelihoods of their citizens.

Tommy Frasene

Majors: International Studies and Economics
As someone keenly interested in how the global system functions, I am enjoying this opportunity to critically study Russia's role in the world. An "Overpopulation, Pollution, and Poverty" fifth grade unit sparked my fascination with the relations between international power, wealth, and impoverishment although I probably would not have described it like that at the time. My role in this Task Force is to describe how the United States should address Russia to best advance U.S. interests in Iran and in Kyrgyzstan, and I am finding the research to be challenging and invigorating.

Justin Gilnick

Biography not available

Rahel Goitom

Major: International Studies
Minor: Global Health
Studying US-Russia relations appealed to me because it is such a complex relationship that has sort of been preeminent in international affairs. My research starts with the Nuclear Security Summit held on April 2010, which set a new tone for global cooperation on nuclear security threats. In particular, I'm focusing on coordinated efforts between the US and Russia to prevent nuclear capabilities from reaching the hands of non-state actors, and what can be done to further advance this objective.

Maria Menglin Guo

Major: International Studies, JSIS Honors
Minor: Diversity
I am researching education and labor in Russia. I am particularly interested in how under-represented groups such as women and youth are affected by Russian institutional and social structure. I am evaluating and analysing the education and labor structure from a civil society perspective and human-centred approach.

Sarah Heck

Majors: International Studies and French
I am researching the impact of regional tensions on US- Russian relations with a specific focus on the political issues between Georgia and Russia after the 2008 military conflict in Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I am exploring the ways in which American foreign policy can improve relations between Georgia and Russia..

Bryndis Ingimarsdottir

Majors: International Studies and Spanish
I am working in the sub-commission of Arms Control and International Security. More specifically I am interested in assessing progress of the Non-Proliferation Treaty between the United States and Russia. I am considering where the treaty might need more strict guidelines, and what actions the US can take to reach the goals laid out in the treaty more quickly, while at the same time assisting Russia in its disarmament process.

Jena Ladenburg

Major: International Studies
Jena Ladenburg is an International Studies major with the "Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, and Security" in the Jackson School. She is interested in nonproliferation issues and is a member of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, UW chapter. Jena will be graduating in June 2011.

Azmera Melashu

Major: International Studies Track: Latin America
Minor: Diversity, African History
I was initially interested in the U.S. Relations with Russia: Bilateral Relations and Global Impact Task Force because I knew very little about Russia. I pride myself in being a generalist and looked at this task force as an opportunity to expand my understanding of the world. My undergraduate career has been a bit ecletic with my travels mostly informing my classes. I have mostly focused on classes and issues dealing with Latin America, and Africa, so this task force topic is very new and exciting. The only qualm I had about my task force is that there wasn't an opportunity to travel.Perhaps the Jackson School could change that for the future participants. Overall, it was a challenging but worthwhile experience.

Angela Meyer

Major: International Studies
Minor: Comparative History of Ideas
I am researching the politics of Russian foreign trade-how past policy and ideology shapes trade relations between the US and Russia today. In attempts to "reset" relations with Russia I am researching US involvement in Russia's accession to the WTO and OECD. I am also exploring effective ways to resolve past issues and obstacles, such as protectionism in many Russian industries, in order to move forward and promote trade and business development between the two nations.

Bronwen Raymer

Major: International Studies
Minor: Geography
I am interested in researching the convergence between the effectiveness of policies designed to promote environmental protection and the strength of civil society in a given country/region. I argue that a strong civil society and the ability for the general public to make policy demands benefits both the society at large and the environment. From this perspective, Russia becomes a particularly interesting case, as both the environment and the general population suffers from an inability to compete with political and business interests that privilege extraction of natural resources as an important economic development strategy.

Megan Stock

Major: International Studies Track: Human Rights, Law, State & Society
I researched the issue of Intellectual Property Rights in the Russian Federation, as well as the ramifications these violations may have regarding WTO accession. On a personal note, I am very interested in culture, particularly Brazil, where I spend three months each year. My goal for the near future is to work as a translator for major events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics in English/Portuguese.

Henrik Strand

Majors: International Studies and Russian Language and Literature
I am a senior that is double majoring in International Studies and Russian language and literature. My focus of study has mainly been on post-soviet states of the near abroad and the political economy of central Asia, however, in this report I was the head of the Business and trade development sub-group. In the future I hope to study languages of the region, and plan on spending some time working as an English language teacher in eastern Russia or Georgia in the Caucasus region. This report was a challenge to compile, but it was a labor of love by the time our report was finished.

Elise Taubenheim

Major: International Studies
The Russian-American committee Task Force allows me to explore my interest in tackling policy issues from a multilateral front. I am researching the emerging Russian relationship with Venezuela and the ways in which it could impact American interests in Latin America. I am excited to be granted the opportunity to complete an independent research process culminating in a group publication.


Center for Global Studies
International Studies Program
University of Washington
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 685-2707
(206) 685-0668 fax

Sara R. Curran
Program Chair
(206) 543-6479

Sabine Lang
Associate Program Chair

Lauren Dobrovolny
Program Coordinator
(206) 685-2707