News / USA

Russia-US Relations Deteriorating

President Barack Obama meets with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Yokohama,  Japan, 14 Nov 2010
President Barack Obama meets with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Yokohama, Japan, 14 Nov 2010
Five years ago, the Obama administration sought a “reset” in relations with Russia - but over the past several years, relations between Washington and Moscow have soured.

The so-called “reset” brought concrete results, such as a major strategic arms control treaty reducing the number of long-range weapons.

In another example of cooperation, analysts point to Moscow’s tougher stance on Iran. Russia voted at the United Nations to impose stricter sanctions on Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons policy.

Moscow has also allowed American forces to transit through Russia in and out of Afghanistan - an important step as U.S. combat troops wind down their presence in that country.  

And Russia joined the World Trade Organization with the strong backing of the United States.

Relations deteriorating

Analysts say the “reset” was meant to be the first phase in establishing even closer ties between Washington and Moscow. But they say major disagreements have derailed the efforts to begin the second phase - in fact, experts say, relations between Washington and Moscow are deteriorating.

One reason is Russia’s unwavering support for Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad.

Robert Legvold, with Columbia University, said Moscow’s backing is part of a larger set of issues that set the United States and Russia apart.

“The United States has for some time, going back to the Bush administration and including the Obama administration, believed the international community had responsibility when there were egregious human rights violations,” said Legvold. “The Russians, like the Chinese, and for that matter the Indians, are deeply committed to the notion that the outside world ought not to be interfering in these domestic problems, no matter how bad they get for the populations in these areas.”

Differences over arms control

Another area of disagreement is arms control.

Matthew Rojansky, with the Wilson Center, said the United States wants more cuts in long-range ballistic warheads - greater cuts than those imposed by the New START Treaty.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen in the duration of Obama’s second term," Rojansky. "It’s just not something that the Russians are sufficiently interested in, given that the United States is also not prepared to put items the Russians are interested in - like, for example, restrictions on ballistic missile defense or space-based weapons or cyber weapons - on the table."

Snowden still a problem

Another irritant in US-Russia relations, said Robert Legvold, is the case of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor granted temporary asylum by the Russians.

“At the outset, they were not unhappy that Snowden had done what he had done - they were able to use Snowden, and the way the U.S. government responded to him, as a counter to U.S. criticism of their own domestic policies, repression of free speech and a host of things of that kind,” said Legvold. “Putin would have been happier had Snowden moved on and it didn’t become an issue where the U.S. insisted that Russia had to play an important role in turning Snowden over to the U.S.”

Rojansky, from the Wilson Center, said historically, the U.S.-Russia relationship has been driven by the relationship between the two leaders: when leaders distrusted each other, you had bad relations, and vice-versa.

“With Bush and Putin there was sort of too much crisis to crisis, a kind of love-hate [relationship], too much extremes of high and low in their perceptions of one another," Rojansky said. :Whereas Obama and [Dmitry] Medvedev had a very stable, kind of mutual respect going on, that Obama and [Vladimir]  Putin simply don’t have. I think there is a cold distrust on both sides and a lack of respect, actually.”

No progress ahead in relations

Rojansky said most of Russia’s concerns and objections are largely driven by Moscow’s national interests - which in some cases go counter to U.S. interests. But Rojansky says despite those differences, the dialogue between the two countries must continue.

“There is no alternative - you have to talk to them. One of the big mistakes that Bush made towards the end of his presidency, was to tell the Russians, say publicly, the Russians don’t understand their own interest, they don’t know what’s good for them. That’s just a way of shutting down dialogue and they are never going to take you seriously after that.”

Many experts expect that for the duration of the Obama administration, U.S.-Russia relations will simply muddle through - with neither President Obama nor President Putin investing a lot in moving the relationship forward.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PermReader
March 01, 2014 5:58 AM
" relations will ...muddle through." - Obama`s muddle through thinking and actions against "American imperialism" from within make international chaos and became a part of the Putin`s international "conservative" strategy.


by: Georgy Zhukov from: Puerto Rico
February 28, 2014 1:17 PM
Russia now hates whatever smells of Islamic fundamentalists because of their Caucasus problem. It will never support a regime change in Syria when it is very possible that sharia lovers might take control. They are not politically correct, they love whatever gives them (Russians) security in their country. Russia will not support a group which they will have to fight later on as the U.S. does from time to time.


by: Deswantoro Ismail from: Indonesia
February 28, 2014 6:16 AM
There's still a sense of cold war between them, power show-off is always their nature. Influence and economic doctrine that both they're seeking altogether though to face the vice-versa aftermath.


by: Alfredo Galarraga from: Orlando
February 27, 2014 8:55 PM
Russian government are not conducted by trusty people, every time try to nail a dagger in US shoulders.

I think,... they aren't learn the lesson in cool war.

In Response

by: Anonymous
March 08, 2014 7:51 AM
You are demonstrating entire ignorance of history. It is Russia, that has always been stabbed in the back. What lesson should it draw from the Cold war? Never oppose to the US? Even when its own national interests are at stake?

In Response

by: tom from: tampa
March 02, 2014 8:03 PM
Wait a minute! Russian gov is not conducted by trusty people??
They're saints compared to the US government. Where do live? Not here, for sure!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


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