Respect for Russia

With U.S.-Russian relations under the microscope, how Washington and Moscow perceive each other will be crucial in building a constructive relationship. But does the Kremlin have Washington’s respect?

"Putin is rattled by the growing independence of some of the former Soviet republics, most notably Georgia and Ukraine. But his inept meddling, which failed to prevent democratic popular uprisings last year in both countries, has only weakened him. . . .

Russia suffers from what Strobe Talbott, the former deputy secretary of state and a Russia expert, calls the ‘Rodney Dangerfield' effect: It gets no respect. But Putin's way will not win it back. The United States and the European Union must set clear markers, starting with a new emphasis on honoring the 1999 troop withdrawal commitments. If this is not done, an issue ignored too long will move to the front burner soon. But by then it will be too late." -Richard Holbrooke, The Washington Post, February 16, 2005.

"Russia is back. That's the real lesson I take from Putin's blunt comments. A country that was near collapse after the fall of Soviet communism has regained enough confidence and stability to take a verbal shot at its old rival. ‘We are emerging from nothing,' the Putin aide told me. To explain the Putin phenomenon, the Kremlin's chief ideologue, Vladislav Surkov, recently compared him to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, another president who brought his country back from economic disaster and restored its pride. Like FDR, Putin is using ‘presidential power to the maximum degree for the sake of overcoming the crisis,' Surkov said. . . .

What hasn't changed is Russia's neurotic relationship with the West. Russian friends tell me the country feels unloved and unappreciated-a political doormat that Western powers think they can walk on at will. That's the frustration that surfaced in Putin's speech in Munich." -David Ignatius, The Washington Post, February 14, 2007.