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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid