Sphere of Influence for the Taking

Just caught this interesting analysis piece from Michael Stott at Reuters that comments on the success Russia has had in “winning back” their influence over several countries near her borders, while Europe and the United States, well, just can’t or won’t do much about it.  I get the economic crisis argument as a major force guiding the priorities of policy, but this other argument about “needing Russia’s cooperation” seems like a euphemism for the ongoing, distorting fantasy of Russian help on Iran.  It would be very interesting to see what would happen in U.S.-Russian relations and the region if that issue were pulled off the table.  That said, Masha Lipman’s quote below is dead on.

Butthe election of Obama and the global financial crisisbrought different priorities to Washington. Moscow became a keyplayer which needed to be won over to an agenda of globaldiplomacy rather than a Cold War-era foe to be contained.

Publicly, U.S. officials bridle at the idea that they areacquiescing in a renaissance of Kremlin power.  (…)

“It was gradually realised in the West that provoking Russiadoes not yield positive results,” the Carnegie Centre’s Lipmansaid. “We can benefit from being on better terms with Russia.”

“Iran, Afghanistan and START are higher on Obama’s list thanan American mission to spread democracy all over the world.”