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Russia’s Domestic Politics, Not Geopolitics, Driving Tensions With U.S.

Rajan Menon Monday, Jan. 21, 2013

American and Russian leaders cannot agree on much these days. Yet pressing problems such as Syria’s civil war, Iran’s nuclear program and post-withdrawal Afghanistan demand U.S.-Russia cooperation.

Liberals in both countries attribute the relationship’s difficulties to the erosion of democracy in Russia, their logic being that a convergence on basic political values would enable greater cooperation. Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama’s “reset” policy toward Moscow proceeds from a different premise, namely that America and Russia can find areas for cooperation despite disagreements on democracy and human rights because, on some issues, self-interest unites them. Thus the reset involves better communication, constructive high-level meetings and a change in tone -- in short, the standard diplomatic fixes. ...

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