Pretending to Get Along

The Japanese magazine Sentaku features a new article which disregards the apparent transformation of Russia under the U.S. reset policy.

It would be a mistake, however, to jump to the conclusion that Moscow has abandoned its diplomacy of threat and intimidation for good. There are two factors to indicate that the apparent change to “friendly diplomacy” will last no more than a year or so.

The first, according to diplomatic sources, is the U.S. midterm congressional elections this fall. Russia believes that, after the elections, President Barack Obama will no longer be able to work on “resetting” relations between Washington and Moscow. In anticipation of this, the Russian leadership is looking for an opportunity to establish “more equitable” U.S.-Russia relations, in which Russia takes the lead.

The other factor is the election of the members of the State Duma, or the lower house of the Federal Assembly, late next year and the Russian presidential election in two years. Before these elections, the government must prove to citizens that the Russian economy is recovering. Prime Minister Putin’s goal of making Russia among the five top economic powers will require at least a 6 percent annual growth rate. Therefore, Moscow is seeking economic cooperation with as many countries as possible.