News / USA

Will 'Reset' in US-Russia Relations Continue?

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, G20 Summit, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, G20 Summit, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012.
President Barack Obama has made better relations with Russia a cornerstone of his foreign policy.

During his first administration, the so-called “reset” in relations brought about concrete results, including a major strategic arms control treaty reducing the number of long-range nuclear 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 program - a policy advocated by the United States and other western nations.

The former U.S. defense secretary in the Clinton Administration, William Cohen, said the international community must continue to pressure the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons aspirations.

“Otherwise we are going to continue to see the kind of instability in the region and questions about whether or not there will be any kind of military action in the future,” Cohen said. “We hope that won’t take place but I think all countries have an interest in preventing it and I would say Russia and China and others have to participate in that.”

Moscow cooperation on Afghanistan

Another sign of close U.S.- Russia cooperation, analysts said, was Moscow’s decision to allow American forces to transit through Russia in and out of Afghanistan.

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

Former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who served under Presidents Gerald Ford and George Herbert Walker Bush, said Moscow and Washington are no longer enemies as they were during the Cold War.

“If you look round the world, we don’t have areas of inevitable confrontation and conflict either with the Russians or with the Chinese. And we have to try and take advantage of that,” said Scowcroft.

US, Russia disagree on Syria

While there have been positive developments on arms control, Afghanistan and Iran, experts said Washington and Moscow remain divided on several key issues - including 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, several of them imposing economic sanctions on Syria.

But recently, Moscow has distanced itself from Mr. Assad. A deputy foreign minister in Russia, Mikhail Bogdanov, said the Syrian leader is losing more and more control over the country, which could lead to a victory for the opposition.

Missile Shield remains contentious

Another area of disagreement is the Obama administration’s plan to deploy a ballistic missile defense shield in Europe.

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

On another issue, many analysts said the Obama administration has not been strong enough in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on civil society.

John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, said, “It’s a measure of Putin’s confidence that he can basically act without fear of retaliation from the United States. That has helped embolden him to crack down: crack down on political dissent, crack down in the economic sphere, really trying to establish authority - not in a communist sort of way, but in the traditional fashion of a very, very strong central government.”

US defends human rights

William Cohen said the U.S. must be a strong advocate of human rights.

“We have to constantly raise the issue of human rights, of openness in government, and being critical of any attempt to shut down the voice of the people. But we also have to recognize that we are going to have to deal with Russia, we should do so openly, honestly, said Cohen. “And recognizing that it is not going to be easy, that they have their own views about what is right and what is permissible inside Russia. What we can do is hold up the flame of freedom. And again, we can’t impose it.”

Many experts said it will be interesting to see if during his second term in office, President Obama devotes as much energy to the U.S.-Russia relationship as he did during his first administration.

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.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mike from: Russia
January 13, 2013 12:12 PM
followers of bloody Stalin? no, I am not the follower, but it is fact,
that Stalin started with Russia with plow and leaved our country with nuclear arms. Casualities were great, but the aim was also great.

"there is no alternative" I think yes. If you think no, try to describe this alternative.

"60% controlled Duma" it is very interesting. Why 60%? Why not
100%? What do you mean "controlled"? Senat in the USA is controlled in my opinion).

(reading all your text I have an idea, that you are scared of something))

"billions dollars disappeared" - corruption is a known problem,
not in such scales of course). It is a problem of all countries,
even in a Red China it is a problem. But now we try to solve this
problem, not every deal is translated on TV, only main, like about

"millions poor people" - as compared with 90th people become to
live better. It is stupid to dispute this. Only watch thru you window
you can see many cars, cars of common people. Could you see
so many 20 years ago? I didn't see.

"corruptions eats 1/3 GDP" - proofs, proofs, proofs. Again I think
that you gain numbers from you head.

To finish - if you don't like things today, what Russia you want to see? It's interesting for me to consider, can a liberal be a patriot)

by: Wisdoms from: The World
January 13, 2013 10:21 AM
United States should know that what is humble, but not picking up her own strong points to versus others weakness. That does not make U.S stronger. That only makes U.S fall behind. Indeed.

by: heshukui from: china
January 13, 2013 2:33 AM
Very good!

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
January 12, 2013 9:36 PM
To Mike:
For followers of bloody J.Stalin, for those from KGB/FSB all about basic human rights, democracy, observance of the Constitution is “liberal” trash. Why do you stubbornly reiterate that there is no alternative to the 12-years long rule of “beloved” Mr Putin? You are confused about executive (the Government) and legislative (the Duma) branches of Putin’s regime. It’s hypocrisy with “public” scrutiny of the “good” law about foreign agents. None in Russia was in doubt that the FSB initiated law in the FSB-highjacked country, in 60% FSB controlled Duma would pass and everybody on the FSB’s pay list would support the law.
But what about billions dollars disappearing in “black hole” of the Government? Where are they going? Why is the petrodollar-showered country with billions $ revenue poor with millions people on breadline? Why is Russia dying-out? Why has Russia become backward in science, technology and education? Why does corruption eats up 1/3 GDP? Why doesn’t Russia provide for its own orphans?
In Response

by: nick from: USA
January 12, 2013 11:02 PM
Dictatorships are on the rise, like Egypt and the Terrorists around the world.
US Dollars look like being wasted

by: La Russophobe from: USA
January 12, 2013 5:00 PM
This report is highly in accurate. It refers to a "strategic arms control treaty reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons" but this treaty ONLY resulted in reductions of AMERICAN weapons. Not ONE Russian weapon was decommissioned.

It is equally inaccurate to claim ANY progress has been made by the US in dealing with Iran because of Russia. In fact, Russia continues to give aid and comfort to the dictatorship in Iran, just as it supports Syria and stood behind Egypt and Libya against their democracy movements.

The seething hatred of the US shown in the recent anti-US adoption ban and Russia's bellicose threats regarding the Black Sea further give the lie to this report.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
January 11, 2013 8:35 PM
Everybody in the world should keep in mind that V.Putin and led by him party with their lavish and extravagant lifestyle remain in power after stolen and rigged election. They impose on Russia their peculiar cocktailed ideology of Stalinism and mediaeval Orthodox Christianity. They heavily cracked down on Russian society, political dissent and basic human rights. They keep Russia hostage. His government is absolutely closed to public scrutiny. What can be worse - they even interrupt personal Internet access to any international comments.
In Response

by: mike from: Russia
January 12, 2013 2:22 PM
I don't want to wrote any words about first two sentences, it is liberal trash and no more.
basic human rights u say? The fact, that those guys like you go to the street actions and wrote here such things easily proves, that it's all good with HR in our country. Absolutely closed to public scrutiny? You can access hot-line and Duma will consider all initiatives, which will gain more than 100,000 signs. Moreover, this second I have tested myself. Some time ago, I leave my sign under the law about foreign agents, because I think, that it is a good law and the law was passed.
Come on, man, 90th was the time of liberals, but it's over thank God.

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