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

Asian Stocks Plunge on Weak Factory Activity

Official survey finds China’s manufacturing sector contracted at its fastest pace in three years More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs