Russia Still Matters: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Russia s institution of a ban on American adoptions of Russian orphans, an appalling response by the Duma to U.S. sanctions against officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case,1 was a clear indicator that bilateral relations will assume a lower priority in the next 4 years for both capitals. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the measure despite open misgivings by some of his own key aides and against the opposition of most of Russia s civil society. The Russian Internet response was scathing, producing an instant winner for best sick joke of 2012 An educated American family has decided to adopt a developmentally disabled Duma deputy. 2 Despite Putin s calculated pandering to anti-American sentiment, however, there are important areas of the bilateral relationship where cooperation and improvement are possible. At his last face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama at the Los Cabos G20 summit in June 2012, for example, Putin suggested both a desire and basis for real cooperation, particularly in expanding the economic aspect of the relationship. Putin s public signals are mixed, but America remains the most important actor in the world for Russia, and Moscow by no means wishes to put the brakes on its relationship with Washington either in this or in half a dozen other key areas. Looking beyond the low point in bilateral relations, reached at the beginning of February 2013, Russia will not cease to be important to U.S. policymakers and American geopolitical interests for a number of reasons. The country retains its Soviet-era inheritance of permanent membership and veto power in the United Nations UN Security Council, where its cooperation or opposition can prove decisive. The Russian Federation is still the only country in the world that can obliterate the United States with a nuclear strike. This is not a fading, obsolescent capability.
- Government and Political Science