U.S.-Russia reset Policy

Russian active policies and cooperation with countries that are not U.S. allies are a source of worry for the U.S. administration as such policies are thought to be harmful to U.S. interests. Russia is blamed for its increased presence in Eastern Europe and Eurasia and for extending the lease of the Gyumri military base in Armenia until 2044.

The question of resetting the reset button in US-Russia ties has now become a hot topic, especially in view of the upcoming November 2 congressional elections in the U.S.

“In particular, the upcoming “Republicanization” of Congress has led some Russian politicians and analysts to worry about a new chill in U.S.-Russia relations, a concern expressed lately by Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Russian Duma Committee on Foreign Relations,” Eugene Ivanov wrote in his article, Will Republicans Chill U.S.-Russia Relations?

Less than one week to the vote, the consensus is that although the Democrats are likely to keep control over the Senate, their majority will dwindle from 18 to no more than four to six seats. In the House of Representatives, however, the Republicans are poised for a big net gain of about 50 seats allowing them to take over the House by forming a 10-12 seat majority, according to the Ivanov Report.

A new disposition on Capitol Hill will undoubtedly have a dramatic effect on the administration’s foreign policy priorities.

“The Obama Administration believes that it needs strong international support for its military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as for confrontation with Iran, and North Korea, and, in the long run, possibly China. And in doing so, the White House hopes to bring Moscow to the U.S. side. So far, any such success is minimal… The U.S. should review its policies concerning Russia and the post-Soviet republics based on a realistic assessment of Russia’s intention and actions while giving top priority to American national interests,” Cohen wrote.

“To further strengthen its dominance in Central Asia, Moscow used its media muscle in Kyrgyzstan to facilitate the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The move was payback for his refusal to evict the U.S. airbase at Manas airport. Russia now demands to be allowed to deploy an “anti-narcotics” military base in Osh in Fergana Valley, the scene of brutal violence in the summer of 2010,” Ariel Cohen wrote in his article, Time to Revise Obama’s Russian “Reset” Policy.

Actually, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently did proclaim Eurasia a Russian “sphere of exclusive interests,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

But doesn’t the U.S. have its own strategic interests around the globe? What about the EU, Japan, South Korea, and Colombia, for example, where the new military bases are being built?

Russia is not supporting the U.S. initiatives. Hence in the eyes of some politicians and scholars the “reset button” policy has failed. As such, one may conclude that when in March 2009 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pressed the “reset button,” some politicians did not think that it meant the new start for cooperation of equals. Russia was apparently being requested to act in line with the interests of the U.S. Only in that case the reset could be considered by the media as a successful one.

* Anna Varfolomeeva is an international reporter at M4 Media

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