A Hollow “Reset” with Russia

Russian Matryoshka dolls with images of U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev

From Robert Kagan, the Washington Post:  [F]ew accomplishments have been more oversold than the Obama administration’s "success" in getting Russia to agree, for the fourth time in five years, to another vacuous U.N. Security Council resolution. It is being trumpeted as a triumph of the administration’s "reset" of the U.S.-Russian relationship, the main point of which was to get the Russians on board regarding Iran. …

The fact is, the Russians have not said or done anything in the past few months that they didn’t do or say during the Bush years. In fact, they sometimes used to say and do more. Here’s Vladimir Putin in April 2005: "We categorically oppose any attempts by Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. . . . Our Iranian partners must renounce setting up the technology for the entire nuclear fuel cycle and should not obstruct placing their nuclear programs under complete international supervision. …"

In exchange for Russian cooperation, President Obama has killed the Bush administration’s planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Obama has officially declared that Russia’s continued illegal military occupation of Georgia is no "obstacle" to U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear cooperation. The recent deal between Russia and Ukraine granting Russia control of a Crimean naval base through 2042 was shrugged off by Obama officials, as have been Putin’s suggestions for merging Russian and Ukrainian industries in a blatant bid to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty.

So at least one effect of the administration’s "reset" has been to produce a wave of insecurity throughout Eastern and Central Europe and the Baltics, where people are starting to fear they can no longer count on the United States to protect them from an expansive Russia. And for this the administration has gotten what? Yet another hollow U.N. Security Council resolution. Some observers suggest that Iran’s leaders are quaking in their boots, confronted by this great unity of the international "community." More likely, they are laughing up their sleeves — along with the men in Moscow.

Robert Kagan is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  (photo: Reuters)

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