Writing in the Moscow Times, Konstantin Sonin argues that Barack Obama’s reset policy is winning over the trust of Russian citizens. At least it’s working for some people.
It was no great surprise that Obama took that position. His choice of Michael McFaul as his top Russia adviser was a sign that there would be neither warm hugs nor a new Cold War. The greatest surprise for me was that the Russian leadership apparently took Obama’s message seriously. For the past year, Moscow has not issued any antagonistic political initiatives and, at the same time, its policy toward Washington has become more realistic. In the end, Britain, Spain, Germany and Japan — all of whom were enemies with the United States at some point in the past 250 years — learned to live with the United States, neither merging with and becoming completely dependent on Washington, nor arguing with it over trifles. This task has been easier for Russia, a country that never actually fought a war against the United States.
As Obama must have hoped, a sense of responsibility for the fate of U.S.-Russian relations has begun to influence the decisions and words of the Russian leadership. The fact that the recent spy scandal did not lead to harsh rhetoric from Moscow — even for domestic political gain — proves more than anything else that the Kremlin is willing to take a new, fresh look at U.S.-Russian relations.