Russian-US reset failed to resolve major differences – senior Russian MP

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – February 13, 2013) The chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, has said that the reset in Russian-US relations has failed to smooth major differences in bilateral ties, Interfax news agency reported on 13 February.

During a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Moscow, he said: “The reset has by and large gained its objectives: it has changed the tone (of Russian-US relations), it has defined spheres of cooperation. But it has failed to resolve major differences, first of all the problem of missile defence.”

Pushkov continued: “After three years of tactful behaviour towards Russian domestic political issues, the USA lost it in the end. In December 2011 Hillary Clinton flew of the handle and gave a harsh assessment of the Russian parliamentary election.” In response, Moscow accused the USA of supporting Russian opposition forces, he recalled. “A period of mutual restraint was once again replaced by rather tough exchanges on Russian domestic politics,” Pushkov said, adding that “it did not promote our relations with the USA”.

“There, I think the reset has in the end failed. Issues of Russia’s domestic politics have once again come to the fore,” he concluded.

At the same time Pushkov expressed the hope that the new US secretary of state, John Kerry, would show a constructive approach to Russia, an earlier Interfax report from his news conference said.

“As you know, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has resigned. They say that some are sorry to see her go. I see no reason why Russia should feel sorry and I hope that Kerry will be a politician less driven by ideology and more rooted in realism,” Pushkov said, adding that if Chuck Hagel, whom he described as belonging to “a school of political realists”, was appointed secretary of defence, “this tandem together with Obama would be a positive one”.

On the subject of President Obama’s visit to Russia, Pushkov said it was unlikely to come before the G20 summit, as so far there was no significant agenda for the Russian and US leaders to discuss, a later Interfax report on the same day said.

“Much will depend on whether we’ll find a significant sphere for cooperation or not, since the success of the first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama will depend on it. It was thought that Obama would come to Russia before the summer holiday season, some time in June, but now it is highly questionable,” Pushkov said.

He continued: “Meetings between the leaders of two major powers should focus around some specific initiatives. So far there are none. Unless they are found, Obama will most probably come to Russia only in September, for the G20 summit. If they are found, then there is chance that he may come earlier, but so far the agenda has not defined. It is quite obvious that a new agenda is needed.”