"For many years, two major forums have successfully facilitated communication between regions. The first initiative is Dialogue Fort Ross, which will hold its next session online from November 30 to December 4. The second platform is the Russian-American Pacific Partnership, which plans to convene its next meeting in 2021, Antonov said in his article for the San Francisco Examiner, "Connected Across Two Oceans: Potential of Cooperation Between Russian and U.S. Regions," released on the Russian Embassy Facebook page.
According to the Russian ambassador, there are between 3.5 and 5 million Russian speakers in the US.
"A shared history and close humanitarian ties lie behind the continued interest of the Russians and the Americans in cooperation. This is particularly felt away from Washington, D.C. –in areas where our bilateral relations are not yet spoiled by the toxic atmosphere of Russophobia," Antonov said.
The ambassador pointed out that businesses from the US come to Russia’s Siberia and the Far East.
"Many U.S. companies choose to do business outside Moscow and the Moscow region. The footprint of American enterprises can be seen in the Ural –in the Sverdlovsk and Tyumen regions, above all. Yet another illustration of that was the virtual Texas-Ural conversation held this summer with the participation of entrepreneurs and local authorities. The topic of the discussion was the prospects for expanding business cooperation," Antonov said.
The ambassador added that Russian business is also building up its presence in the US, with Russian metallurgic factories operating in Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
"Our oil and gas and oilfield service companies are represented in Texas and New York," Antonov said.
"Contacts and student exchanges are maintained with the SKOLKOVO Institute of Science and Technology, Higher School of Economics, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Tyumen State University and Far Eastern Federal University," Antonov said.
The Russian ambassador also pointed out that there are 77 pairs of Russian and US sister cities that have the potential to revive close ties.
"It would be great if every state in the U.S. could find a partner among the constituent entities of Russia and outline specific plans and mutually beneficial projects. Such cooperation could help build a stronger foundation for inter-state communication between the two countries," Antonov said.
The Russian ambassador said that there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of regional Russia-US cooperation, but the fact that local social, economic and humanitarian ties exist despite the generally unfavorable climate of bilateral relations is already encouraging.
"Our common task is to cultivate these shoots of cooperation in every possible way. They help strengthen mutual understanding between the Russians and the Americans and could be a ‘safety net’ for preventing bilateral contradictions from going too far. We must not forget that the interaction between Moscow and Washington still has a major impact on key global processes and the well-being of the entire planet," Antonov concluded.