Does Putin’s Kremlin return threaten the re-set of US-Russian relations?
“There will not be a rollback of the major accomplishments of the reset,” says Matthew Rojansky, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. But a Moscow-based Carnegie colleague isn’t so sure.
Even before news of Putin’s elevation, Lilia Shevtsova predicted that the fragility of the reset would present problems for one of its principal architects - Michael McFaul,* President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next US envoy to Moscow.
“McFaul is a friend of mine, but I have mixed feelings about his posting to Russia,” says Lilia Shevtsova of the Moscow Carnegie Center:
On the one hand, it’s good to have an ambassador who knows Russian realities, is versed in the subject, including Russian culture, speaks the language, and has great empathy with what’s happening in this country. On the other hand, I think the reset policy is over, that its main targets have been reached….However, no cardinal changes have occurred in the relations between America and Russia, so willy-nilly Michael will have to go through the motions of maintaining partnership which is actually nonexistent. There is still a strong touch of suspicion to these relations and it is hard to say how Michael will find a way out of this trap, maintaining normal intergovernmental relations on the one hand and being aware of the direction in which Russia is headed on the other; what means he will find of responding to this situation.
Republicans on Capitol Hill “may choose to use the nomination as an opportunity to confront the Obama administration on other aspects of the ‘reset,’” reports suggest.