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‘The Russians Are in This for the Long Run’

Talking to Angela E. Stent about her new book on U.S. Russian relations.

1:15 PM, Feb 27, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
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One real change in Russian foreign policy is the blossoming of the Russia-Israel relationship. It’s worth remembering that there are something like a million Russian-speakers living in Israel, and Putin wants to appeal to them, “you are still part of the family.” Then there are lots of business ties, and Israel and Russia often see eye to eye on matters of how to deal with terrorists. From the Russian point of view, having good relations with Israel is a way of expanding their options—they have pretty good ties with Iran and Syria as well as Israel.

What do you see as the future of U.S.-Russia relations? Will a successful reset have to wait until Putin is gone, or are American policymakers part of the problem, too?

It is unlikely that the relationship will improve much for the rest of the Obama administration, particularly if Snowden remains in Russia. But Russia and the United States will continue to work together on pressing multilateral issues such as Syria, Iran, and post-2014 Afghanistan. It would be best if this and future U.S. administrations eschewed trying to “reset” relations once again, but approached Russia with more modest, interest-based and realistic expectations—at least as long as the Putin system prevails. 

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