Does the Reset Have a Future?

Does the Reset Have a Future?

A chill has resurfaced in relations between Moscow and Washington. Is the "reset" a two-way street, or just a tactic to get Russia to do America's bidding?


The issue of future NATO expansion continues to weigh on the relationship as well. While the Obama administration clearly stated this was not a priority, the inclusion of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO remains the official goal of U.S. foreign policy. Medvedev has also proposed a new treaty on European security that those in Moscow see the White House as being strongly against. This is in contrast to a number of European countries who voice their support for the idea. This, among other things, drives Russia and the Unted States apart in spite of all the voiced good intention.

So, does the reset have any future? Yes, if it does not happen to be just another new “détente,” where tactics change but the two countries remain fundamentally opposed to each other. In this case the United States would see Russia as a temporary, instrumental partner to help in Afghanistan and to rein in Iranian nuclear ambitions. On the Russian side, the U.S. would be considered a source of investment in the Russian economy and a part-time partner on some other issues, such as entry into the WTO. Such a tactical alliance is bound to fail—sooner or later. And this is exactly what would happen if the administration espoused the view that the “reset” is merely an instrument to make Russia “bend to the United States.”


What both Moscow and Washington need is a deep reconciliation of their national and foreign policy interests in light of the many global issues the world is facing. The “reset,” it should be noted, has at its core something more important than mere foreign-policy calculus, even if some politicians in Moscow and Washington are still not quite aware of the fact that in an age of globalization and interdependence—and in the context of a multipolar world—countries are truly faced with an array of mutual interests. Actually, this is what made Obama’s message, if not actual policies, so lauded around the world. Today both sides have to show that they are ready for a deep reconciliation. If Russia and the United States move along this way, the politics of a “reset” will have a future from which both sides would benefit.

Alexey K. Pushkov is Director of the Institute of Contemporary International Studies (ICIS) at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and Author and Anchor of a popular political TV-show “Postscript.” Formerly a speech-writer of Michael Gorbachev, he had a career in diplomacy and mass-media. He is also Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Moscow Institute of International Relations. His new book: “The Billionaire’s Club. Russia and the West in the 21st Century” is soon to be published in Moscow.