Early in the Trump administration, Russia proposed a sweeping reset of the U.S.-Russian relationship, which would have normalized diplomatic, military and intelligence relations, according to a document provided to the State Department by a Russian diplomat.
The document, delivered by the diplomat in April and recently obtained by Buzzfeed News, called for "special consultations" on information security, the war in Afghanistan, the "situation in Ukraine," the Iran nuclear deal, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula — and completely restoring the diplomatic and intelligence channels that were cut off by the Russian intervention in Syria and Ukraine. The initiatives were to start immediately.
Putin didn't waste time after Trump won the presidency: He dispatched a diplomat to deliver the plan only three months after Inauguration Day. Although he was clearly eager to thaw U.S.-Russian relations, the proposal didn't mention the two acts that caused the estrangement: Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and interference in the 2016 election.
Experts whom BuzzFeed asked to review the plan were incredulous. “This document represents nothing less than a road map for full-scale normalization of US-Russian relations,” said Andrew Weiss, the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” said Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the George W. Bush administration.
Amid the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Putin's desired reset was stopped in its tracks. Only a few of the proposed meetings have taken place. And as both the U.S. and Russia have expelled each other's diplomats, and Congress has enacted tough new sanctions on Russia, the chances of it coming to pass are remote.
The Russian Embassy in Washington would not comment on the document. “We do not comment on closed bilateral negotiations which is normal diplomatic practice,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement. The White House and the State Department wouldn't say who delivered the document but did not dispute its authenticity.