At the recent Fort Ross Dialogue event at Stanford University, a number of top thought leaders, diplomats and academics shared their thoughts on the importance of bilateral exchanges between the U.S. and Russia.

Video by Igor Davydov

Amidst the political rhetoric accompanying the current confrontation between Russia and the United States, many leaders in both nations have lost sight of the importance of dialogue during this difficult period. At a time when political leaders are closing down potential opportunities for diplomacy, informal discussions and non-governmental meetings between Russians and Americans are more important than ever.

With that in mind, Russia Direct recently organized a roundtable event within the Fort Ross Dialogue, an annual forum that brings together Russian and American thought leaders, businessmen, diplomats, politicians and students.

This year the forum took place on Oct. 24 at Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California and marked its fifth anniversary. Participants discussed the future of U.S.-Russia relations. The agenda primarily dealt with the subject of bilateral educational exchanges.

With the support of Transneft, the roundtable of Russia Direct brought together a number of experts who gave their views on the future of U.S.-Russia exchanges. As a result of the event, Russia Direct produced a video that features the following individuals:

- Dan E. Davidson, President of American Councils for International Education;

- Anna Vasilieva, Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey;

- Kathryn Stoner, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University;

- Victoria I. Zhuravleva, Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities;

- Anton Fedyashin, Director of the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at American University;

- Sarah Sweedler, CEO of Fort Ross Conservancy;

- Mathew Rojansky, Director of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute;

- Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and Stanford professor;

- Andrew McGrahan, President of Chevron-Neftegaz;

- Sergey Petrov, Russian Consul General in San Francisco;

- Mikhail Margelov, Transneft Vice President;

- Nikolay Kolesnikov, Sovcomflot Executive Vice President.

For more information about the Fort Ross Dialogue read: "Fort Ross forum: Fostering a new dialogue between Russia, the US"

The Fort Ross Dialogue was sponsored by Transneft, Sovcomflot and Chevron. Russia Direct extends special thanks to Transneft and Sarah Sweedler, CEO of Fort Ross Conservancy, for the support of its panel discussion.