Russia House – Kontinent USA – American University in Moscow promote US – Russia business, science, educational, and cultural cooperation by organizing conferences and networking seminars, identifying reliable partners on both sides, bringing decision makers together, facilitating negotiations and assisting in the establishment of mutually beneficial business ventures.
We believe that the enormous security and economic challenges of the 21st century make the US-Russia cooperation absolutely essential to both nations.
Interview of the founders of the “Russia House” in Washington, Edward and Tatiana Lozansky to the Washington Times newspaper.
Why do you spend so much time working to improve relations between Russia and the United States?
Perhaps there is something in our stubborn nature that prevents us from being satisfied with the existing state of affairs and makes us strive for higher and more ambitious goals. In the USSR, we were inspired by the ideas of the great nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. Despite the high awards and privileges, Sakharov demanded more freedom for his compatriots. He became a fighter for human rights and called for rapprochement with the West. We believed that it was our moral duty to do everything possible to promote Sakharov’s ideas, although many considered them unrealistic. This activity eventually led us to move to the United States. However, in the late 1980s, the General Secretary of the CPSU, Mikhail Gorbachev, began radical democratic reforms, declaring his desire to begin the process of rapprochement with the West, primarily with the United States. Believing Gorbachev, together with our good friend Paul Weyrich from the Free Congress Foundation, we made several trips to Moscow, where we met with top Soviet leaders to understand how serious Gorbachev’s intentions are and discuss how to achieve success in this direction.
Many well-known American politicians, businessmen, professors of leading universities, and journalists took part in these trips, and as a result, a detailed plan for the integration of Russia with the West was developed. Paul personally handed it over to President George H.W. Bush in 1990 but, unfortunately, the Washington foreign policy establishment did not support these ideas. Moreover, from our point of view, they made many wrong decisions, including the expansion of NATO to the East. A well-known American diplomat, former US Ambassador to Moscow George Kennan, and many other experts called this a tragic mistake. As a result, our dreams of rapprochement between Russia and the West did not materialize, although the goal was close to being achieved and now we are reaping the fruits of these mistakes.
You often travel between the two countries. For some, this is normal, but for others it is mysterious. Comments?
Those who are familiar with our history — the 6-year battle with the Soviet authorities for reunification — that we do not give up so easily. Therefore, we continue to work on various projects to develop mutually beneficial US-Russia business, educational, scientific, and cultural ties through the “Russia House” in Washington and the “American University in Moscow”, which we founded in 1990 with the blessing of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.
What are you most concerned about in the current state of affairs?
In the past, in times of crises, American presidents had all the powers to find a compromise, for example, during the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962. However, at present, foreign policy is determined by the so-called establishment, aimed at the unconditional hegemony of the United States on the world stage. Russia does not accept this approach and calls for mutually beneficial cooperation on the basis of equality and respect for the interests of each side, but Washington refuses to conduct such a dialogue. In addition, the mainstream media, which during the Cold War tried to ease tensions, now is inflaming them. As a result, an increasing number of experts share the opinion of Senator Sam Nunn when he talks about us “sleepwalking into a nuclear catastrophe.”
What gives you hope?
In the absence of dialogue at the state level, the initiative should be undertaken through public diplomacy, or what is called the “people to people” approach. This is what we are doing on a wide range of projects in different areas. In conclusion, we would like to note that in the center of Moscow in the Arbat district there are several sculptures reflecting historical events when relations between our countries were positive. The handshake of President Abraham Lincoln and Tsar Alexander II, symbolizing Russia’s support during the American Civil War, as well as Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev as a symbol of the end of the Cold War.
There is a sculptural composition of three American and three Soviet soldiers on the bridge over the Elbe River in the German city of Torgau, symbolizing our common victory in World War II. All these sculptures are the works of the famous Russian sculptor Alexander Burganov. We would also like to mention the sculptures of Andrei Sakharov in front of the Russia House on Connecticut Avenue in Washington and the National Research Nuclear University – MEPhI in Moscow, which is Edward’s alma-mater. As mentioned above, it was Sakharov’s ideas about the rapprochement of our two great countries that played an important role in choosing our life path, so we believe that these two sculptures represent a kind of virtual bridge between Russia and the United States. Our goal is to try to move from virtual standing to the embodiment of Sakharov’s ideas in real affairs.