News / Europe

Kremlin attacks on US Embassy: Electioneering or End of Reset?

Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador in Moscow
Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador in Moscow
James Brooke

For three years, Michael McFaul worked in the White House to promote a “reset’ in relations between the United States and Russia.  But within days of arriving in Moscow as Ambassador, he has become the target of some of the harshest anti-American rhetoric since the end of the Cold War.

A group called “Network of Putin Supporters” held a flash mob protest Thursday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  It was so fast, and now so routine, that it was over before reporters arrived.

In the past month, the embassy has flared up as an issue in Russia’s presidential election campaign.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has charged anti-government protesters are in the pay of the U.S. government.  Ruling party legislators have said any legislator who enters the U.S. Embassy is a traitor.

On his second day on the job, U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul was denounced on national television as a man with a secret mission to promote a so-called Arab Spring in Russia.

Inside and outside the embassy, debate rages about whether this is just pre-election politics or the end of the so-called "reset" in bilateral relations.

Carnegie Center analyst in Moscow, Nikolai Petrov, says Mr. Putin is going negative to boost his ratings before the March 4 election.

"The Kremlin now is so much focused on elections, and playing the anti-American card is one of the opportunities that they are trying to exploit,” said Petrov.

Petrov says that with the vote three weeks away, Mr. Putin needs a credible enemy fast.

"The United States being the single superpower is a good candidate to play this role,” said Petrov.

The danger is that the attacks on Ambassador McFaul go straight back to the White House.  If the attacks continue after the March 4 election, analysts say President Obama could devote less time to Russian issues, believing the reset if over and his investment of time will yield little payback.

Mr. Putin is expected to win a third term as president in the March elections, either in the first round on March 4 or in a second round, on March 25.  

One week after the inauguration on May 7, Russia’s next president is to take his first foreign trip, to Chicago for a combined NATO-Group of 8 meeting.  Earlier this week, Mr. Putin told a group of Russian editors that NATO was a Cold War relic that should be dissolved.  

Although Barack Obama has been president for three years, he barely knows Mr. Putin.  For protocol reasons, almost all the American president’s meetings have been with President Dmitry Medvedev.

During the past three years the two presidents followed the reset policy, working on areas of common ground.  

Russia dropped sales of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran and allowed the transshipment of NATO military hardware to Afghanistan.  Washington helped Russia win admission to the World Trade Organization.   

Mark Feygin and other analysts say the reset is not dead.

He predicts that shortly after the election, Kremlin officials will lower their anti-American rhetoric and try to minimize the damage to U.S.-Russian relations.

And even though Ambassador McFaul is being attacked daily in Russia’s state press, analysts like Petrov believe he has a future in Moscow.   

"I do think that Michael McFaul can be very effective,” said Petrov.

Under this scenario, the Cold War rhetoric will melt away, along with February’s snow and ice.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid