Posts Tagged ‘los angeles’

March 2013

A Russian ‘frenemy’

LA Times

The White House is trying to revive the “reset” with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It is likely to be a wasted effort. The reset is dead not because of someone’s ill will or mistakes. It is because Washington and Moscow have reached the limit of accommodation that neither could overstep without compromising the central elements and moral content of their foreign and domestic policies. The Obama administration’s effort would be far better spent on devising a more realistic strategy that at least stabilizes the relationship, albeit on a lower level of interaction.

Two sets of factors are mostly responsible for the growing disjunction between the United States and Russia: the diminution of Russia’s geo-strategic relevance for some key U.S. objectives, and the increasing prominence and role that Kremlin domestic behavior plays in U.S.-Russian relations.

In Afghanistan, the rapid drawdown of U.S. troops obviates much of the need for personnel and materiel transportation through Russia after 2014. With regard to Iran, another key U.S. concern, Russia has unambiguously signaled the end of its support for even watered-down resolutions that it previously voted for at the U.N. Security Council.

Syria has been an even starker demonstration of the diversion in guiding values and objectives. Russia thrice vetoed U.S.-supported Security Council resolutions calling for sanctions against the murderous Assad regime. The last of the vetoes was cast in July, despite President Obama’s appeal to President Putin in an hourlong telephone conversation. Throughout the conflict, Russia has continued to sell weapons and technology to Assad.

On Russia’s domestic front, following Putin’s reelection in March 2012, the Kremlin has undertaken a concerted and consistent effort to repress, intimidate, marginalize and stigmatize not just the political opposition but also citizens participating in peaceful protests and members of nonpolitical, independent civil movements and groups. Since the run-up to the Duma election in the second half of 2011, from Putin on down, the regime has been using alleged subversion by external enemies to justify the crackdown.

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