New York Times Online
March 6, 2012
by David Satter
Russia's relations with the U.S. depend on the requirements of the Russian internal situation. Now that Putin faces serious internal opposition, we can expect him to adopt a confrontational policy toward the U.S. Only in this way can he distract attention from his own misrule and unite Russians around him in the face of what he will claim is a threat from the West.
The key factor here is not the change from Medvedev to Putin, which is meaningless. Putin was in charge even when Medvedev was formally president. The big change is that Russians have begun to protest after years of passivity and the Putin regime cannot be sure of its long-term hold on power. It is this and not any change in personalities or the behavior of the U.S. that will shape U.S.-Russian relations.
We can expect Russia to emerge as a strong defender of Iran and such "liberal" leaders as Syria's Assad. We can further expect Russia to threaten to scrap the strategic arms reduction treaty if it is not accepted as a full partner in European defense. Espionage activity by Russian agents is likely to increase. Russia may try to interfere with U.S. basing rights in Central Asia and to limit its cooperation over Afghanistan. Most of all, we can expect that attempts by the U.S. to defend human rights in Russia and to work for democratic reform will be treated as an attempt to dictate to Russia and interfere in the country's internal affairs.
Under the circumstances, the U.S. should deal with Russia exclusively on the basis of facts and without effusive demonstrations of goodwill. Cooperation should be based on negotiations and not extended unilaterally. The U.S. should not hesitate to defend those who share our values in Russia. We have an obligation to do this and it is the best way to build moral capital for the future.
David Satter, a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute and a visting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), is the author of It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past (Yale). Age of Delirium, a documentary film about the fall of the Soviet Union based on his book of the same name, was recently released.
Home | Learn About Hudson | Hudson Scholars | Find an Expert | Support Hudson | Contact Information | Site Map
Policy Centers | Research Areas | Publications & Op-Eds | Hudson Bookstore
Hudson Institute, Inc. 1015 15th Street, N.W. 6th Floor Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.974.2400 Fax: 202.974.2410 Email the Webmaster
© Copyright 2013 Hudson Institute, Inc.