Many in Congress will not ignore the abysmal track record of the rule of law in Russia and the spread of corruption and organized crime. As I wrote recently, the Magnitsky Act would not only empower the U.S. government to take action against individuals involved in human-rights violations but also would send a clear message that the United States will support the rule of law in other countries.
Russia’s repressive domestic policy and obstructive foreign behavior on issues essential to U.S. national interests shows that President Obama’s “reset” policy has failed. In Los Cabos, he chose not to criticize Russia’s deteriorating human-rights situation. Since his election, Obama has pursued a Cold War-style arms treaty mandating U.S. nuclear reductions. In return, however, President Putin ran and won on a platform emphasizing anti-Americanism and has created a straw man of a Russia under attack from Western enemies.
To further send a signal to Washington, Putin chose not to attend the G-8 summit at Camp David and the NATO summit in Chicago. Instead, he went to China for his highly symbolic first presidential visit.
The G-20 meeting was a missed opportunity to recognize that the “reset” policy has indeed reset U.S.-Russia relations—back to the Cold War—and is in dire need of reassessment. For starters, Obama should have told Putin that Russian cooperation on Iran and Syria are the litmus test of the U.S.-Russian relations.
Unfortunately, however, the president could not do even that.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is senior research fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at The Heritage Foundation.