From Syria and Iran to North Korea and Afghanistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds cards that he can use to help or hurt Obama administration objectives.
Obama badly needs Russian help to get U.S. troops and gear out of landlocked Afghanistan. He also wants Russian cooperation — or at least a quiet agreement not to interfere — on other international fronts…
By saying no, Putin can stymie U.S. goals in matters far beyond his own shores — and far removed from Russia’s long-standing beef with the United States over the latter’s plans to erect a missile defense shield in Europe.
U.S. leverage is limited. Obama is unlikely to either drop the missile defense plan or revisit steps that have eased commercial trade between both nations. Russia appears less swayed by the prospect of arms-control concessions than in the past.
From Russia’s perspective, Obama has ignored or overridden its concerns on two major issues — missile defense and the military intervention in Libya. Both instances contributed to the Russian perception that the United States’ main leverage is its ability to roll over friends and foes alike.