News / Europe

Analysts: Relations Between Russia, US Deteriorating

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Feb. 4, 2013Russian President Vladimir Putin, Feb. 4, 2013
x
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Feb. 4, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Feb. 4, 2013
Foreign policy in President Barack Obama’s first administration was dominated by the so-called ‘reset’ - a policy aimed at improving ties between Washington and Moscow that reached a low point during the last few years of the George W. Bush administration.

The ‘reset’ did bring concrete results, such as a major strategic arms control treaty reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons on both sides. Moscow also allowed American forces to transit through Russia in and out of Afghanistan. And Russia voted at the United Nations to impose stricter sanctions on Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.

But now, analysts say relations between the two countries are deteriorating again.

U.S.-Russia Relations Deteriorating

Stephen Jones, a Russia expert at Mount Holyoke College said: “It’s clear that relations are pretty sour at the moment and I think this has clearly something to do with Putin’s accession for a third term as president.”

Vladimir Putin was elected president last May, replacing Dmitri Medvedev who did not run. Medvedev is currently Russia’s prime minister.

Rachel Denber, with Human Rights Watch, said: “In my whole 21 years of monitoring human rights in Russia, I have never seen such a concerted crackdown on the whole of civil society.”

Russian Laws Curtail Civil Society

The Russian parliament, dominated by a pro-Putin political party [United Russia], passed a series of laws curtailing human rights. Denber said these include a limit on demonstrations, an expanded definition of treason, increased restrictions on internet content and legislation tightening controls on non-governmental organizations.

The Russian government also expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development - an organization that has helped fund some of the most well-known Russian civil society organizations - such as Golos, Moscow’s only independent vote counting group, and Memorial, one of the country’s leading human rights groups.

Moscow Retaliates for Magnitsky Bill

In the United States, the Congress passed the so-called “Magnitsky Bill” named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in jail in 2009 after allegedly being tortured for blowing the whistle on the largest tax fraud in Russian history. The congressional legislation places restrictions on the financial activities and denies U.S. visas to Russians implicated in human rights abuses.

Robert Legvold, with Columbia University, said Moscow then retaliated.

“The Russians saw that as a kind of foreign interference in the form of trying Russian citizens, or accusing and then convicting Russian citizens without a trial, arguing that it is for them to decide how to handle the case,” he said. “And the legislators on the Russian side then retaliated, in very large numbers - a high percentage vote - passing legislation saying that Americans could not adopt Russian children.”

In another sign of worsening ties, analysts said the Russians abandoned a 10-year agreement with the U.S. on fighting crime and the drug trade, while Washington pulled out of a joint working group on civil society.

“Reset” Policy in Jeopardy

Many experts, including Robert Legvold, said Putin’s crackdown on civil society is having a negative effect on U.S.-Russia relations.

“So you’ve had a whole series of these steps that really appear to go contrary to the central issues that we should be dealing with: nuclear weapons, proliferation, Iran, the Arab Spring, Afghanistan - the war in Afghanistan - and the like.”

Legvold described U.S.-Russia relations in the next few months as “unpredictable.” He said it will depend on whether the two countries can move away from what he called “the backbiting” and focus on resetting the relationship on the right track.

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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs