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Russia gives up on Obama overture

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks on ties with the United States are to be taken as a definitive indicator that Moscow is lowering whatever residual expectations there might have been in the Kremlin that President Barack Obama would kickstart a new initiative to improve the relations between the two countries. 

The Moscow pundits were speculating that no sooner than the inaugural ceremony on Monday in Washington got over, Obama would despatch National Security Advisor Tom Donilon with an overture to the Kremlin on charting a new course in US-Russia relations. 
But Lavrov’s remarks suggest that nothing of the sort is happening. All he could think up was a meeting with Vice-President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference next month, which is an annual event. 
Interestingly, Lavrov’s remarks followed Obama’s inaugural speech on Monday where in a stirring address of some 2000 words devoted to domestic social and economic issues, he spoke about 150 words on foreign policy to breeze past three ideas: (a) primacy on resolving differences with other nations through engagement; (b) emphasis on alliances, coalitions and institutions for projecting US’ global leadership; and, (c) value-based approach to foreign affairs. 
Obama didn’t single out any country or any “hotspot”. He had no doctrine to unveil, nor any transformational ambitions. Noted writer Steve Coll couldn’t have put it better in a New Yorker Podcast when he said last week, “He [Obama] just wants to keep the world at bay, so that he can concentrate on the projects he has in mind in domestic policy.” 
We can expect a continuation of the trends that began with Obama’s first term. Period. Evidently, Russia is not a priority in Obama’s agenda. His priorities are: Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East, China. 
Washington estimates that it can address these issues with or without Russia’s help. Simply put, call it ‘new cold war’ or whatever, the US feels no compulsion to accommodate Russia. 
The veteran Russia scholar Stephen Cohen of New York University analyzed in a recent article that there is “overwhelming bipartisan support” in the US political establishment and “full support” among the policy elite in Washington on the expansion of NATO and the missile defence program and the policy of selective engagement of Russia (when it suits American interests), while robustly working to crack open up the Russian political system from a long term perspective. Cohen estimates that the US’s Russia policy has been consistent since the early 1990s and Obama has no intention to change course. Cohen’s opinion piece is here

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.

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One Response

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  1. Michael Miles says

    As a President Obama watcher I feel the need to point out that in my opinion other than a couple of speeches at the beginning of his first term I don’t believe he ever has expressed much interest in foreign affairs, and in those that he did he was castigated by his American political opponents and our internal special interests for being too soft on “America’s Enemies”, whoever they happen to be that week, or even a “Secret Muslim”.

    It seems to me that he left foreign policy to Hilary Clinton and his generals, and received due payback for his choices, good or bad. Now he is putting a more trusted soul into the Secretary of State position, whereby he can hope for better outcomes.

    Any pronouncement of “appeasment” (realistic engagement) to Russia or anybody else other than Israel would be met by our radical right wing opposition party as another example of why this man is not fit for the job and is a Muslim traitor. Go figure.

    His only hope of getting anything done will be to allow a white elite take the initial heat and step in at the last minute and place his seal on a done deal. You must understand we still live an incredibly racist, divided, and unforgiving country and foreign affairs are still not the purview of an African American, even if he is the elected President and commander of the most powerful array of weapons on the planet. God save us all!

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