Nikolas Gvosdev reiterates an important observation about U.S.-Russian relations that I have made before:
In reality, the view from Moscow is that Obama and his team have zealously defended and advanced U.S. interests, and in many cases have “gotten the better” of Russia in the bargain
As Gvosdev notes, it is an “article of faith” among Republican critics of current Russia policy to portray it as a series of concessions in return for very little, but this is almost exactly the opposite of what has happened. The Russian government’s view is that it has been the one making most of the concessions while receiving very little in return, which is much closer to the reality of what has happened over the last three and a half years. If good relations between the U.S. and Russia are going to continue, the U.S. likely can’t continue with the current arrangement in which the U.S. reaps almost all of the benefits. However, because one party in the U.S. insists on pretending that the “reset” has been a huge giveaway to Russia it is much more difficult politically for any future administration to cultivate an ongoing constructive relationship with Russia. Of course, one of the two major party candidates has no interest in such a relationship with Russia, as he has made abundantly clear over the last few years.
Gvosdev goes on to explain why some in Russia might have an interest in cooler relations with the U.S. under a Romney administration:
A Romney victory, which would undoubtedly usher in a chillier period in U.S.-Russia relations, would discredit the liberalizing factions around former president and current prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who argued that Russia could in fact develop a stronger partnership with the United States if Moscow was prepared to be more accommodating to U.S. interests. One of the key figures in that faction, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, expressed concerns that a Romney administration would indeed lead to increased tensions with Russia, which would be grist for the mill for those who argue that Russia needs to radically expand its defense budget. Not surprisingly, any increase in military outlays would benefit the defense industries controlled by the siloviki and their business allies.
It is to be expected that hard-liners in other countries could take advantage of hostility from U.S. hard-liners, since the two groups feed off one another and reinforce one another’s suspicions of the other government. While that may serve partisan or factional interests in their respective countries, worse relations between the two countries don’t serve the interests of the United States or Russia.