Mr. Rogozin’s Neighborhood

Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, has gotten himself a lot of press for his Twitter habits – were he a professional athlete in the NBA or NFL, he would probably be one of those guys who gets fined for it all the time.  I think the point is that “getting press” for being so amusingly undiplomatic is precisely the purpose of his job.  When Russia decides they actually want relations with NATO to improve, they will replace him (likewise, as soon as they are serious about better relations with Washington, they will replace Vladislav Surkov on the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Civil Society Working Group). 

Imagine if it were the other way around, that all of Obama’s diplomatic appointments on Russia were made up of hardcore hawks – I believe that we would never hear the end of it.  But the Obama administration should do some more thinking on the key question all this raises: with so many benefits and softer policy, why wouldn’t they be more receptive to the reset, or make serious appointments to encourage its continuation?  (Here’s a hint – some elements of Russia’s government see benefits in having a big, evil enemy to point at all the time.)

The New York Times has some good stuff on Rogozin’s Twittering.

“His job is virtually to drop rhetorical bombs on NATO,” said David J. Kramer, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, who served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in President George W. Bush‘s administration. Though Mr. Rogozin may be shrewd and intelligent behind the scenes, he said, “His public profile runs counter to any sense that Russia is serious about improving relations with NATO.”

But inrecent months the two sides have at least started to talk again. Lastmonth, Russian and NATO military officials held their first formalmeeting since relations broke down over Russia’s war with Georgia inAugust 2008. Still, distrust between the erstwhile cold war foesremains high. Russia recently published its new military doctrinecharacterizing NATO as a top security threat. Mr. Rasmussen, in a rareshow of pique, wrote a Twitter message that the Russian assessment”does not reflect the real world.”

Mr. Rogozin’s trash talking,which the Kremlin rarely rebukes, has put off not a few NATO diplomats,said one NATO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity becausehe has to work with Mr. Rogozin. “There have been a number of occasionswhere you see Ambassador Rogozin sitting in some seminar and sort oftweeting more or less live,” he said. “Security issues are not alaughing matter.”