by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Leonid Bershidsky writes at Bloomberg that American relations with Russia are likely to cause headaches for the next U.S. president, years after the Obama administration‘s — and specifically former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s — efforts to “reset” that relationship.
The next U.S. administration will inherit the worst relationship with Russia since Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire. Judging from the list of grievances that President Vladimir Putin has laid out, even a relatively Putin-friendly Donald Trump will have a hard time satisfying him.
Putin delivered his message to the future U.S. president Monday, just as the U.S. State Department announced it was suspending negotiations with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria and Russia-backed Syrian troops moved to take more ground in Aleppo. In a bill submitted to parliament, Putin threatened to end a joint U.S.-Russian disarmament program — in which surplus weapons-grade plutonium is processed into fuel — unless the U.S. meets certain conditions:
Putin might as well have said the program will resume when hell freezes over. “He asked for too little,” Leonid Volkov, an anti-Putin politician, wrote sarcastically on Facebook. “He should have asked for Alaska back, eternal youth, Elon Musk and a ticket to Disneyland.”
Even if a U.S. administration were suddenly prepared to lift sanctions introduced in response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, not even President Trump would agree to the humiliating and nonsensical demand for compensation — particularly for Russia’s spiteful decision to ban Western food imports, a move that primarily hurt domestic consumers. The NATO cuts, too, are a non-starter.