News / Europe

Looking Beyond Magnitsky Lists, Kremlin Eyes Putin-Obama Meetings

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at Kremlin ceremony, Moscow, April 15, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at Kremlin ceremony, Moscow, April 15, 2013.
James Brooke
Russian President Vladimir Putin had a “positive” meeting in Moscow Monday with a top Obama Administration envoy, a Kremlin aide said.
 
Foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov said that he and President Putin talked about trade, missile defense and nuclear arms cuts with U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon.
 
Russia-American relations have been going through their coldest stretch since the Cold War era. The Kremlin accuses Washington of meddling in its internal affairs; Washington says the Kremlin wants a foreign enemy to build domestic support.
 
Now, with spring in the air in Russia’s capital, analysts say the meeting sends a signal that the Kremlin wants to move beyond the issue of visa black lists that has soured relations since December.
 
Dmitry Suslov, a U.S.-Russia relations professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, said the Kremlin wants to tone down the polemics surrounding the prison death of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer for an American hedge fund.
 
"The negative impact of the Magnitsky affair will be fading down in weeks and months to come,” Suslov predicted. "Ultimately, this negative impact could be overcome after the personal meeting of the two presidents, Putin and Obama, presumably this summer."
 
Last Friday, Washington issued a list of 18 officials banned from visiting the United States. The Kremlin was apparently relieved that it contained only mid-level names and less than 10 percent of the number of names that some American congressmen wanted.

Nevertheless, the Kremlin retaliated with its own list of 18 mid-level American officials banned from visiting Russia.
 
On Saturday, Duma hardliners called the list war “a hard blow” to U.S.-Russia relations. But they may be out of step with the new line from the Kremlin.
 
On Monday, state-run TV did not rebroadcast hardline comments made Sunday by Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Instead, state-run TV aired Peskov’s comments calling President Putin “a man of compromise.” Peskov said that Putin could compromise as long as no red lines are crossed affecting Russia’s security.
 
Russia’s government is looking ahead to Putin’s meeting two months from now at the Group of 8 meeting in Northern Ireland. After that, the Russians are hoping that President Obama will come to St. Petersburg in September for the Group of 20 meeting that Putin will host.
 
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that after meetings with Donilon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in recent days, he believes the Obama Administration wants to work with Russia.
 
"I have heard from Tom Donilon and John Kerry that they understand well the negative impact of a whole range of factors on Russia-U.S. relations," including, Lavrov said on national television Monday, the "Magnitsky List."
 
Suslov’s reading is that the Obama Administration is putting a higher priority on ensuring Russian cooperation in Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran — and a lower priority on building democracy in Russia.
 
"This policy has been successful because the Obama Administration is ready to take, to absorb these rules of the game,” Suslov said, referring to a series of steps the Kremlin has taken over the last six months to cut U.S. government programs and influence in Russia. “The Obama [administration] does not make big trouble over the authoritarian trend."
 
Human rights defenders say they are disappointed by what they call a small list of Russian officials hit with visa and financial bans. They say the list can grow, and they note that the European Parliament is considering adopting its own Magnitsky list of banned Russian officials for Europe.
 
"The Russians have made clear that, far from being interested in investigating the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, they are determined, on the contrary, to defend those responsible for his death — and they are ready to do it at the highest government level,” said American author and Russia expert David Satter, speaking from Amsterdam Monday after two weeks in Russia.
 
But the Kremlin may mute its reaction. Its priority now seems to be achieving results at the two Putin-Obama meetings scheduled for the next five months.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gen. Alexi Kolmogorov from: Russia
April 16, 2013 8:32 AM
petty, very petty... well, as Russia begins its spiral down the economic vortex of corruption theft and mismanagement, Russia is being gripped by fear... the stench of oppression and brutality once again permeate the stench that is called Russia... crime is through the roof, disease, suffocating corruption, apathy and degradation is hear again... we are becoming like the putrefaction of Arab dictatorship again... a junta of corruption is using terrorism to govern us again... fear rules here

by: Helmy Elsaid
April 15, 2013 4:55 PM
investigate sergei magnitsky killing

by: JGNY from: LINY
April 15, 2013 2:20 PM
Maybe they could talk about how America is disarming and removing the shields in Poland and possibly South Korea. Forget that, just give them our missle launch codes and make this easire

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs