The Russia Reset Has Run Out of Gas

The Russia Reset Has Run Out of Gas

Ever since the Cold War when Moscow's entire foreign policy was focused on a confrontation with Washington, Russia has followed U.S. presidential elections closely. Sometimes it seems that Russian foreign policy would lose all meaning if the U.S. did not exist. Had Republican candidate Mitt Romney won the election, the anti-U.S. rhetoric would have surely increased during his term in office, but it will likely remain quite high during Barack Obama's second term as well.


The U.S. is a major factor in Russia's domestic politics. Russian conservatives consider the State Department as the main villain and subversive element financing Russia's opposition. They see the long arm of the State Department in almost every problem Russia faces, from the "subversive activities" of independent election-­monitoring organizations to the flooding in the Crimea that some claimed was caused by U.S. tests of a "climate weapon."


In the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, Russian state-controlled media made no secret of their dislike for Republican candidate John McCain. But this time around, Kremlin propagandists exercised more restraint regarding Romney, even though he has said he views Russia as the United States' "No. 1 geopolitical foe."


In reality, they would have been quite happy if Romney had won. This would have played into the hands of those who set the course of Russian domestic policy. An opponent of Russia in the White House would help rally the conservative segment of the electorate and the ruling elite around the Kremlin's anti-U.S. agenda. Since the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church is increasingly evident in that agenda, it is quite possible that had a Mormon come to the White House, the Russian authorities would have exploited that as proof that the U.S. had insidious plans for Russia.



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