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Launching the Clinton Administration Russia Policy in 1993

Clinton wanted to “create the closest possible U.S.-Russia partnership." Strobe Talbott saw Russian transformation as “the greatest political miracle of our era.”

Clinton promised “to do whatever we can to help Russia’s democratic reforms to succeed.”


With the Cold War coming to an end and the Soviet Union dissolving, President Bill Clinton was determined not to miss a historic opportunity to help Russia transform into a democratic capitalist state, according to a set of declassified State Department records published today by the National Security Archive.

Today’s publication includes a transcript of the first Clinton-Yeltsin telephone conversation in 1993, an insightful transition memo from the outgoing Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, and a high-level briefing from Clinton’s top Russia aid, Strobe Talbott. The documents show Clinton, his advisers and their predecessors in the Bush administration wrestling with a number of key policy challenges, including the presence of nuclear weapons in three former Soviet republics,

Photo: National Security Archive

the rapidly plunging Russian economy, and rising tensions between President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian parliament in 1992. Even as Clinton pondered these important policy choices, he and his advisers felt deep personal empathy for the embattled Russian president and the reform project that he had embarked upon.

Declassified in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the National Security Archive, these records are early highlights from a forthcoming reference collection on U.S.-Russia relations covering the entire 1990s. That set, US-Russian Relations from the End of the Soviet Union to the Rise of Vladimir Putin, will be published by ProQuest as part of the award-winning Digital National Security Archive series.

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