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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid