Open Letter to Obama
Jan. 20, 2017
The administration of US President Barack Obama has come to a close and the results are decidedly mixed. I would like to give my assessment of Russia-US relations during this period, especially since I was directly involved in many events.
On the one hand, Russia and the United States managed to work together to resolve a number of major international problems. Our countries signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty, and Russia and the United States played a leading role in resolving the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. We achieved the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. These outcomes are important for the entire world.
On the other hand, US-Russia relations completely fell apart by the end of the second term of the Obama administration.
Everyone is aware that the United States has always tried to” steer” almost all global processes, brazenly interfering in the internal affairs of various countries and waging multiple wars on foreign soil.
Iraq, the Arab Spring, Ukraine, and Syria are just a few examples of such reckless policies in recent years. We can still see their consequences, which range from the complete collapse of the political systems in these countries to wars which claimed tens of thousands of lives.
There is only one explanation for such actions: the interests of the United States. An explanation which is entirely defensible in America itself, though much less so in other countries.
But the real issue lies elsewhere– the failure to understand one’s own true interests.
The Obama administration was completely short-sighted on such an important and complex issue as relations with Russia. There was hope that it would be smarter, more circumspect, and more responsible– despite differing assessments of complex international processes, varying approaches to key decisions, the role of emotion and the pressure exerted by various political forces.
The most important thing was to remember that Russia is not a banana republic (even though equal dialogue is a must with all members of the international community).
It is unacceptable to talk to a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council in such a manner. A country with defensive capabilities equal to the United States.
It is important to remember that Russia-US relations, without exaggeration, determine the fate of major international initiatives. Often, we may like or dislike some of the policies of our key partners, but we must be aware of our common responsibility. This is something that the Obama administration failed to do.
The pressure on our country has reached unprecedented proportions. Ill-considered economic sanctions, which did no one any good, have reduced our cooperation to zero. There were the ridiculous individual sanctions that nobody paid attention to.
And it doesn’t get any dumber than restricting entry to the United States for the leadership of the Russian parliament, ministers, and businessmen, thus deliberately reducing the possibility of full-fledged contacts and closing the window to cooperation. The bet was on brute force and sheer pressure. It is impossible to imagine such actions even during the Cuban missile crisis, even though the situation was much more serious then…
Who benefited from this? No one. Certainly not the United States. It didn’ t work.
Conclusion: The Obama administration has destroyed relations between the United States and Russia, which are at their lowest point in decades. This is its key foreign policy mistake which will be remembered by history.
We do not know yet how the new US administration will approach relations with our country. But we are hoping that reason will prevail. And we are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship.
See the RI version