Gates’ Moscow Mission Highlights U.S.-Russia Thaw

Gates’ Moscow Mission Highlights U.S.-Russia Thaw

Robert Gates has just completed his first and perhaps his last trip to Russia as secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. Although the two-day visit produced little of substance, some of Gates' public reflections help us understand how much the Russian-U.S. military relationship has improved during the last few years.

As expected, much of the media coverage concerned Russia's response to the military intervention in Libya led by the U.S., Britain and France. The apparent split between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who denounced the intervention as a "crusade," and President Dmitry Medvedev, who mildly rebuked his erstwhile boss, attracted the most attention. Still, the rhetorical flare-up should not be exaggerated, since neither leader has taken any concrete steps to either actively oppose or support the intervention. In his meeting with Gates, Medvedev did offer to mediate the conflict, but nothing came of that initiative.

In this respect, the Russian government is following the same script as that of China, India, some European governments and many Arab leaders, which consists of attacking the United States and its coalition partners for allegedly inflicting too many casualties. At the same time, they tacitly endorse the operation either through a genuine desire to prevent a civilian massacre, a dislike of Gadhafi's regime, a reluctance to risk damaging relations with Western governments or some combination of the three.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review