Russian Prime Minister Medvedev bids farewell to Obama in scathing FB post, damns him with no praise – By Alexander Mercouris

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev and former US President Obama

In scathing final assessment Russian Prime Minister Medvedev accuses former US President Obama of wrecking US-Russian relations by paying no heed to Russian concerns and by underestimating Russia.

Observing Russian practice, Russian President Putin has been careful to avoid making any personal comments about Barack Obama, now no longer President of the United States.

I would add that it is a courtesy that was not reciprocated. Obama on occasion personally, and his officials frequently – including especially Vice-President Biden – spoke of Putin, and did so in the most offensive terms.

It has therefore been left to Prime Minister Medvedev to sum up the Russian government’s view of Obama and his administration in – of all places – a Facebook post.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has come to a close and the results are decidedly mixed. I would like to give my assessment of Russia-US relations during this period, especially since I was directly involved in many events.

On the one hand, Russia and the United States managed to work together to resolve a number of major international problems. Our countries signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty, and Russia and the United States played a leading role in resolving the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. We achieved the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. These outcomes are important for the entire world.

On the other hand, US-Russia relations completely fell apart by the end of the second term of the Obama administration. Everyone is aware that the United States has always tried to” steer” almost all global processes, brazenly interfering in the internal affairs of various countries and waging multiple wars on foreign soil. Iraq, the Arab Spring, Ukraine, and Syria are just a few examples of such reckless policies in recent years. We can still see their consequences, which range from the complete collapse of the political systems in these countries to wars which claimed tens of thousands of lives.

There is only one explanation for such actions: the interests of the United States. An explanation which is entirely defensible in America itself, though much less so in other countries.

But the real issue lies elsewhere – the failure to understand one’ s own true interests.

The Obama administration was completely short-sighted on such an important and complex issue as relations with Russia. There was hope that it would be smarter, more circumspect, and more responsible – despite differing assessments of complex international processes, varying approaches to key decisions, the role of emotion and the pressure exerted by various political forces. The most important thing was to remember that Russia is not a banana republic (even though equal dialogue is a must with all members of the international community).

It is unacceptable to talk to a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council in such a manner. A country with defensive capabilities equal to the United States. It is important to remember that Russia-US relations, without exaggeration, determine the fate of major international initiatives. Often, we may like or dislike some of the policies of our key partners, but we must be aware of our common responsibility. This is something that the Obama administration failed to do.

The pressure on our country has reached unprecedented proportions. Ill-considered economic sanctions, which did no one any good, have reduced our cooperation to zero. There were the ridiculous individual sanctions that nobody paid attention to. And it doesn’t get any dumber than restricting entry to the United States for the leadership of the Russian parliament, ministers, and businessmen, thus deliberately reducing the possibility of full-fledged contacts and closing the window to cooperation. The bet was on brute force and sheer pressure. It is impossible to imagine such actions even during the Cuban missile crisis, even though the situation was much more serious then…

Who benefited from this? No one. Certainly not the United States. It didn’t work.

Conclusion: The Obama administration has destroyed relations between the United States and Russia, which are at their lowest point in decades. This is its key foreign policy mistake which will be remembered by history.

We do not know yet how the new US administration will approach relations with our country. But we are hoping that reason will prevail. And we are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship.

Medvedev’s claim that the level of bitterness and acrimony in US-Russian relations has come to exceed the worst levels of the Cold War (the Cuban missile crisis) is absolutely true.

His criticism of the “ridiculous individual sanctions that nobody paid attention to” is also true. Not only do the individuals in question have no assets in the US or EU for the sanctions to bite on, but as Medvedev correctly says restricting travel and contacts at the highest levels of the US and Russian governments makes no sense.

I would add that nothing like that happened during the Cold War, when the whole impetus of US and Western policy was to increase contacts with the Russians – and to persuade Russian leaders to travel more, not less, outside their country – rather than reduce them.

Obama, if he reads Medvedev’s post (which is doubtful) will find a particular cause for bitterness in it. One of the major objectives he set himself during the period of the so-called Reset was to foster “reform” (ie. pro-US) policies in Russia by trying to play Medvedev (supposedly a pro-Western liberal) and Putin off against each other. He even sent Vice-President Biden to Russia to threaten Putin not to stand for President in 2012, so that Medvedev could continue as President.

The whole idea of playing Medvedev off against Putin was doomed from the start. Not only is Medvedev personally loyal to Putin, but quite simply he doesn’t have the support in Russia to go against Putin even if he wanted to. As Medvedev’s Facebook post shows, the whole idea that Medvedev is more pro American than Putin – though widely held – is anyway wrong.

In any event, all Obama’s foolish meddling in the relationship between Putin and Medvedev actually achieved was to antagonise Putin unnecessarily whilst undermining Medvedev’s standing in Russia. That may explain some of the bitterness in Medvedev’s words about him in the Facebook post.

In truth, as Medvedev’s words say, the underlying cause of the breakdown in relations between the US and Russia during Obama’s second term – which has cast a pall of failure over Obama’s whole Presidency – is that Obama was both disastrously ill-informed about Russia (and was fundamentally uninterested in learning more about it) and completely underestimated it. Medvedev sums it up well

The most important thing was to remember that Russia is not a banana republic (even though equal dialogue is a must with all members of the international community).

It is unacceptable to talk to a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council in such a manner. A country with defensive capabilities equal to the United States. It is important to remember that Russia-US relations, without exaggeration, determine the fate of major international initiatives. Often, we may like or dislike some of the policies of our key partners, but we must be aware of our common responsibility. This is something that the Obama administration failed to do.

As Obama’s Presidency recedes into the past, the accuracy of this assessment will become ever more apparent.

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