In 2012, the then President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev said, that Russia and the United States had never worked so closely and been so successful than in those previous several years. But 2 weeks ago he said “It is sad that the Obama administration, which started its life with restoring cooperation, ends it in anti-Russian agony. RIP.” Quite a turn around of opinion.
But I agree with both of Medvedev’s statements, the current state of affairs between these 2 states is shameful. However, the blame primarily lies with the current President Vladimir Putin, not President Obama or the current PM Medvedev. Despite the current toxic atmosphere between the United States and Russia, there was a time, only 7 short years ago where relations were much stronger.
In 2008 the Obama administration orchestrated a ‘reset’ with Medvedev.* The reset was not some ‘fantisiful’ reset in personal relations like the one President-elect Trump seeks; instead, it was a mutual recognition between these new leaders to layout their foreign policy goals and begin a dialogue in order to achieve a ‘win-win’ or positive sum scenario between their countries. Some areas of their cooperation included:
- Obama and Medvedev signed and ratified the New START agreement
- 30% reduction of nuclear weapons
- N. Security Council Resolution 1929
- The resolution that enabled the multilateral sanctions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action also known as The Iranian Deal
- Greater American access to the Northern Distribution Network
- Allowed the US to supply its troops in Afghanistan without having to rely on Pakistani cooperation
- Increased trade investment and FDI between the countries
- Companies like Exxon, Cisco, and Boeing began to do business in Russia
- Signed new visa agreements which allowed for Americans to spend more uninterrupted time in Russia thereby increasing economic and business relations
- Both states worked together to help reduce civil tensions in Kyrgyzstan in 2010
Unfortunately, Obama and Medvedev’s ‘positive sum’ relationship was short lived as Vladimir Putin miraculously won an unprecedented 3rd term as president. Once Putin was inaugurated he began to turn back the clock on Russian/American relations. While one can never be totally sure as to someone else’s motivations, it is quite clear that Putin disliked Hillary Clinton’s role and statements (during her time as the Secretary of State) and the United States’ role in encouraging and supporting the various color revolutions being seen throughout the Middle East and Russia in 2011.
*President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have both tried to reset relations with Russia; the former looked into Putin’s eyes and famously saw his soul while the latter literally pushed a ‘reset’ button (which actually read перегрузка or ‘overload’ in Russian Cyrillic).