FEATURE

Russian Resolution

by Timothy Frye ’92SIPA, ’97GSAS Published Spring 2012
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The Putin administration has organization but little energy, and the opposition has energy but little organization.

The election has also complicated US–Russian relations. The Obama administration had been in a good position to point to some real achievements with Russia. In recent years, the two sides have concluded a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, which will cut the number of strategic nuclear-missile launchers in half. They have cooperated on transporting US troops through Russian airspace to fight in Afghanistan. With some pressure from Washington, Russia has limited its sales of missiles to Iran, and, after more than seventeen years of negotiations, Russia has finally gained entry to the World Trade Organization. But Putin’s anti-US campaign rhetoric and Russia’s flawed elections have emboldened critics of Obama’s Russia policy at home, especially those with an eye on the November election in the United States. These critics accuse Obama of abandoning those fighting for democracy in Russia.

Putin takes the inaugural oath on May 7. Organizers are making plans for large protests to mark the event. It is not likely that the opposition will surprise the regime again.

Timothy Frye ’92SIPA, ’97GSAS is the Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy in Columbia’s Department of Political Science and the director of the Harriman Institute. His latest book is Building States and Markets after Communism.

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