Special Extra: Obama Speaks on Russia

President Elect Barack Obama spoke to Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press on Sunday. Here is part of their exchange:

MR. BROKAW:  And, briefly, how soon after you take office do you want to meet with the leaders of Russia?  And which ones do you meet with?  Your counterpart is Medvedev; but, of course, the power behind the throne is Vladimir Putin.

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA:  Well, you know, this is something that we’re going to make a determination on.  I think that it’s going to be important for us to reset U.S.-Russian relations.  Russia is a country that has made great progress economically over the last several years.  Obviously, high oil prices have helped them.  They are increasingly assertive.  And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they’ve been acting in a way that’s contrary to international norms.  We want to cooperate with them where we can, and there are a whole host of areas, particularly around nonproliferation of weapons and terrorism, where we can cooperate.  But we also have to send a clear message that they have to act in ways that are not bullying their neighbors.

Obama’s tough words on Georgia are great, but he says nothing about domestic Russian policy. Is he indifferent to the fate of Russia’s countless victims of race murder? Does he care at all about journalists being murdered, about the sham Politkovskaya trial now underway? Does he even know who she is?  Is Obama going to ignore  the outrageous charade of the Putin “prime ministry” and the prospect of a Putin “presidency for life”?  Will he stand up for those fighting to create an active opposition to the Putin dictatorship, like Oleg Kozlovsky?  Does he know that much of the “great progress” Russia has made has been wiped out in the last six months, and that Russia faces a massive economic catastrophe far worse that America’s?

This first step is positive, but woefully incomplete and totally inconsistent with Obama’s supposed committment to democracy and civil rights.  It’s hardly change we can believe in, and it’s a statement that could just as easily have been made by George Bush. 

And worst of all, his words could easily be understood by the KGB thugs who run the Kremlin to mean that they can do as they like within Russia’s borders as long as they do nothing provocative outside them. That is the message that cost 20 million Russian lives in Stalin’s gulags.

2 responses to “Special Extra: Obama Speaks on Russia

  1. Obama is a creful speaker and while he made sure to criticize them a bit through his meet-the-press statement , he also doesnt want to start on a huge confrontational note.

    To sent them a message , I would hope he will not immidiatly set to meet with the Kremlin right after inauguartion…I would prefer he meet them in april , during some world-leader meeting in the U.K.

    One thing is for sure , it is clear he will be softer on Russia then McCain because Obama is a natural compromizer..He ‘s not the decisive fighter for the cause , type.

  2. Whatever his handlers tell him, Obama will say. The main issue is that George Soros and Putin do not get along. This means that Obama and Putin will not get along.

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