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Is Obama’s Russia Team Ready?

Edward Lozansky is very critical of Sen. Barack Obama’s Russia team of advisers, claiming that the Kremlin would prefer to deal with the Bush administration. Then again, the guy loses a lot of credibility when he asks his audience to believe that Joe Biden doesn’t know any more about Russia than Sarah Palin. Right.

If Obama wins the election, his presidency will be most welcome in Europe and the rest of the world and will definitely help improve relations with U.S. allies and Washington’s image in general. But when it comes to U.S.–Russian relations, one should not expect any drastic changes for the better unless Obama overhauls his foreign policy team. The current lineup comprising official and self-proclaimed advisers on Russia is as bad as McCain’s and in some cases even worse, starting with former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke. Obama’s running mate, Senator Joseph Biden, is not much better on Russia than Palin. Besides lobbying in the middle of a huge financial crisis for $1 billion for his good friend President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, Biden is known for blocking the lifting of the Jackson-Vanik amendment unless Moscow guarantees large purchases of U.S. chicken. This outdated obstacle to trade engenders resentment in Russia, blocks its admission to the World Trade Organization, and harms U.S.-Russian economic and diplomatic ties.