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WASHINGTON, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – The United States said Wednesday that it regrets the Russian government’s decision this week to scrap a decade-old bilateral agreement under which it received financial aid from Washington to fight crime, including drug trafficking.
“We obviously regret this decision because under our agreement we’ve had very fruitful cooperation with Russia on rule of law, counter corruption efforts, preventing trafficking in persons, counternarcotics and strengthening our mutual legal assistance cooperation,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing in Washington on Wednesday.
The United States, however, still plans to work with Russia on battling corruption, human trafficking and the drug trade, among other issues, Nuland added.
“We obviously remain committed to working on these and other mutually beneficial law enforcement issues with the Russian Federation,” she said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an order on Monday terminating the 2002 agreement, saying it “is out of line with today’s realities and has exhausted its potential.”
The agreement was originally prompted by Russia’s lack of budget financing for law enforcement at the time, the Russian government said, and was intended to support Moscow’s efforts in combating drug trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering, human trafficking, corruption and terrorism.
Nuland said the US government considers the withdrawal “self-defeating” because most of the work conducted by the Americans under the deal was aimed at training Russians in areas such as combatting human trafficking and the implementation of Russia’s “own new criminal procedures code, which was something that they sought our help on.”
“But it’s obviously a Russian decision if they don’t feel they need that help anymore,” Nuland said.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.