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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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 Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
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.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs