In the run-up to Russia’s March 4 presidential election, with opposition forces staging massive protests, Vladimir Putin sharply escalated the intensity of his anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric. His accusations of U.S. interference in Russian affairs and portrayal of America as an enemy of Russia brought back memories of the Cold War, raising the specter that Moscow would become an unmovable obstacle in the path of many of Washington's foreign policy objectives.
The concern carried particular weight at a time when the U.S. and its allies are trying to muster a united front to stop Iran's nuclear program and to bring an end to the massacres of Syrian protesters by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That fear turned into reality when Russia -- along with China -- blocked action on Syria at the U.N. Security Council in February.
But now that Putin has been re-elected president, Washington, the West and their allies in the Middle East may well rediscover the old Putin, the pragmatist, re-entering the global stage. Less than three weeks after the vote, we are already seeing signs of a more conciliatory foreign policy.