Russia-USA: Nothing to talk about?
Russia will respond to unfriendly moves made by the United States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Wednesday. He noted that "our relations with the United States are a complicated issue."
The Foreign Minister named the issue of missile defense among the difficult ones. "There are those negative consequences that followed the adoption of the odious "Magnitsky Act": in fact, the anti-Soviet "Jackson-Vanik" law was replaced with the anti-Russian one," continued Lavrov.
"We, in spite of everything, of course, will continue to respond to unfriendly moves, but at the root of our position is the readiness for further development of the Russian-American relations in all areas, interest in coordinating actions in the international arena, based on the fundamental principles of equality, mutual respect of interests and non-interference in each other's internal affairs," the Minister was quoted by ITAR-TASS.
Issues in the relations between Russia and the U.S. are much more obvious than, for example, issues between Russia and the EU, and not only for the reasons listed by Sergey Lavrov. Others are less obvious, but also spoken of openly.
In early December of last year, the then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened up regarding Washington's attitude toward integration in the post-Soviet space.
She said that a shift towards re-Sovietization of the region was obvious, only it would not be called the Soviet Union but a customs union or a union of countries of Eurasia, she added. She said it was known what its goal would be, and stated that she was trying to think of all the ways to slow down the process or prevent it from happening.
American political scientist Stephen Cohen said that declaring a policy of "reset", Barack Obama wanted to get from Moscow preferences on three issues: assistance in the supply of NATO forces in Afghanistan, tougher sanctions against Iran and support for the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya in the UN Security Council.
According to the expert, in response, the Kremlin wanted to get a confirmation of the termination of NATO expansion (the former Soviet republics), to reach a compromise on the missile defense system and obtain guarantees of non-interference in the political life of Russia.
Washington got everything it wanted, while Moscow only saw further escalation on all issues of interest, said Steven Cohen. This has become a tradition. For twenty years, this approach in the spirit of the "cold war" has been enjoying overwhelming bipartisan support among the U.S. political elite and in the mainstream media, said the analyst.
He believes that in Washington's policy in relation to Russia three main components have remained virtually unchanged: the expansion of NATO (now missile defense), selective cooperation limited to obtaining concessions without obligation on their part, and interference in the internal affairs of Russia "in the name of democracy." The policy of the current administration fits into this framework.
The relations between Russia and the United States are not very successful, because there are very few common points, said deputy director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies Victor Kremenyuk. "Basically, they refer to the issues that existed during the Soviet era, i.e., the issue of strategic arms control and the issue of reduction of the level of confrontation. That is, the entire complex of issues related to strategic balance. In this area the issues are worked out, and the interests are more or less clear. In this regard there is hope that we can move forward," he told Pravda.ru.
According to him, President Barack Obama is not entirely free in his decisions, including those on Russia. "The Republicans control the House, and there are many of them in the Senate. They believe that the President is too soft in relations with Russia. Many of them believe that Russia is the enemy. There are many things Obama is not able to do. He would talk about conciliation, but is unlikely to perform any actions that could, for example, turn the relationship between Russia and the U.S. onto a more constructive path," said Viktor Kremenyuk.
A Member of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Jan Zielinski is even more skeptical. He does not see any reason for rapprochement between Russia and the U.S. Moreover, the MP considers likely a probable continuation of a legal "war" between the two countries, launched by the American "Magnitsky Act." "The leading countries will always fight and seek leadership," Jan Zielinski told "Pravda.ru".
However, these negative assessments can be explained by the fact that the emotions around the laws recently adopted in Russia and the U.S. are still fresh. Time will tell what impact they will make, and what (if anything) will change in the politics of Moscow and Washington.