News / Europe

US-Russia Relationship in Holding Pattern

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to Russia's President Vladimir Putin before the opening of the first plenary session of the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to Russia's President Vladimir Putin before the opening of the first plenary session of the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to Russia's President Vladimir Putin before the opening of the first plenary session of the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to Russia's President Vladimir Putin before the opening of the first plenary session of the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
President Barack Obama has made better relations with Russia a cornerstone of his foreign policy.

During the last four years, the so-called “reset” in relations brought concrete results, including a major strategic arms control treaty reducing long-range nuclear weapons.

Robert Legvold of Columbia University said another sign of close U.S.-Russian cooperation was Moscow’s decision to allow American forces to transit through Russia to get in and out of Afghanistan.

“So in order to both maintain the effort that we had in Afghanistan over the last few years, and now to deal with the drawdown and the withdrawal of troops, that facility, that ability to move materiel and men north, is very important,” said Legvold.

Cooperation on Afghanistan

Moscow also has agreed to give the United States access to a Russian military base in Ulyanovsk about 300 kilometers northwest of the border with Kazakhstan. Analysts say that logistics hub will play a major role as U.S. combat forces wind down their presence in Afghanistan in the next two years.

On another issue, analysts say over the past few years, Moscow has toughened its stance on Iran, voting at the United Nations to impose stricter sanctions on Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons program - a policy advocated by the United States and other Western nations. Moscow also canceled the delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran.

Stephen Jones from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts said Moscow wants a settlement with Iran because it doesn’t want an unstable situation on the Iranian/Russian border.

“Recently, there has been a statement coming from the foreign ministry that supports any bilateral negotiations between the United States and Iran. That’s important. They are not hostile to a resolution of this situation, even if it means the exclusion of Russia on the negotiating table,” said Jones.

Disagreement about Syria

Analysts say that while there have been positive developments on arms control, Afghanistan and Iran, Washington and Moscow remain divided on several key issues. At the top of the list is how to deal with the crisis in Syria.

The Obama administration has called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Moscow is against that and has vetoed several U. N. Security Council resolutions, including those imposing economic sanctions on Syria.

Jones said Moscow could exert some influence on Assad.

“It doesn’t look like at this stage that it is interested in doing so. What Russia really doesn’t want to see is regime change in Syria. It doesn’t want to see Assad deposed because it is very likely that the person who will come in will be supported by the opposition and would be hostile to Russia," said Jones. "Syria is a very good client for arms supplies for Russia. So for Russia, it would be pretty disastrous. And I think that is why they are trying to keep Assad in power.”

Dustup over missile defense shield

Another area of disagreement is the Obama administration’s plan to deploy a ballistic missile defense shield in Europe, a proposal backed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Washington and its allies say the shield is designed to protect Europe against a possible missile strike by countries such as Iran. Moscow says the anti-missile system - when deployed - could neutralize its strategic missile force, leaving Russia vulnerable to the West.

“They [the Russians] have tended to exaggerate the extent to which, in their mind, this is really part of a U.S. and NATO effort to degrade the Russian nuclear deterrent. I don’t think that’s the U.S.’s and NATO’s intention. The problem is that it is very hard to assure them on that score,” said Legvold.

Analysts say it will be interesting to see if during his second term, Obama devotes as much energy to the U.S.-Russia relationship as he did during his first administration. Experts say right now he is preoccupied with the crisis in the Middle East, as well as domestic fiscal issues, and the relationship with Moscow is not a top priority.

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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More