Three years ago, the Obama administration gave Russia a “reset” button. Three months ago, Barack Obama asked Russian president Dmitri Medvedev to transmit a request to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for some diplomatic space on missile defense, promising that Obama would have “more flexibility” after the election for … something. How has all of that smart power paid off for the President? According to CBS News, Obama and Putin can barely look at each other at a joint news conference (via The Weekly Standard):
CBS reports that when Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin met with the press after their long private discussion, “The two men barely looked at each other. You could just feel, sort of, the tension between them. And the body language really represented how far apart the two leaders remain on the issue of Syria.”
That wasn’t the only embarrassment for smart power at this summit. Putin ended up lecturing Obama over American foreign policy while defying the West over Syria:
“And interestingly,” CBS adds, “Apparently President Obama got a bit of a lecture from Putin about some other failed transitions that are going on around the world.”
Russia should be getting a lecture of its own. The UK, with American assistance, halted a ship that was carrying arms from Russia to Syria, including attack helicopters, by revoking its insurance and forcing it into port:
The British marine insurer Standard Club said it had withdrawn cover from all the ships owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line, including the MV Alaed.
“We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria,” the company said in a statement. “We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage.” …
As it neared the Dutch coast, the authorities there also hailed the ship, the security sources said, and it made an abrupt turn, heading towards Scotland. It was last night now off the coast of the Hebrides but with no insurance covering the ship security sources say it may now have to return to port.
In their attempts to bombard rebel towns into submission, Assad regime forces have increasingly brought up helicopters, strafing the towns of Haffa and Rastan last week.
Their use, condemned by Kofi Annan, the UN peace envoy, has not stopped Russia’s continued insistence on providing arms to the Syrians. Moscow is continuing with a 2007 contract to provide more than 20 MiG-29 M2 fighter aircraft, according to the Americans.
Ah, well. At least we have the good times, no?
Russian media have been poking fun at the US secretary of state over a translation error on a gift she presented to her Russian counterpart.
Hillary Clinton gave Sergei Lavrov a mock “reset” button, symbolising US hopes to mend frayed ties with Moscow.
But he said the word the Americans chose, “peregruzka”, meant “overloaded” or “overcharged”, rather than “reset”.
Daily newspaper Kommersant declared on its front page: “Sergei Lavrov and Hillary Clinton push the wrong button.”
Three years later … they’re still laughing.