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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid