Bad news: Russia not terribly fond of Romney

Okay, okay, I admit it: I led with the bad news.  The good news?  Alexey Pushkov, a key ally of Vladimir Putin and chair of the Duma’s foreign-policy committee, pronounces Barack Obama to be an “acceptable” partner for Russia.

Admit it … this makes you feel better about Mitt Romney:

Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, said in a recent interview that Russian leaders have noted Romney’s comments with concern, and are watching with interest as neoconservative and “realist” advisers maneuver for influence within the campaign.

“We don’t think that for us Romney will be an easy partner,” said Pushkov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin. “We think that Romney will be, on the rhetorical side, a replay of the Bush administration.”

He also noted Romney’s statements that the United States should assert its dominance in the 21st century.

“If he is serious about this, I’m afraid he may choose the neocon-type people…In the first year of his presidency, we may have a full-scale crisis,” he said.

The catalyst for this attitude was Romney’s statement that Russia is the “number one geopolitical foe” of the US, which I believe is incorrect — but not because the Russians are great friends of the US, either.  Our primary geopolitical foe at the moment is Iran, and it has been for some time.  Russia ranges from economic competitor to diffident anti-proliferation partner, occasionally flipping to antagonist in central Asia and far-eastern Europe.  But Iran clearly wants to damage if not destroy the US along with Israel, and has conducted a low-level hot war against us since the 1979 sacking of our embassy in Tehran.

The problem here is that Russia has been an obstacle rather than a friend in dealing with the mullahs.  Putin has fallen back into the Great Game, when the stakes now are no longer empire but nuclear terrorism.  China is equally a problem in the same regard, and Romney hasn’t had kind words to say about Beijing either in this campaign, although usually in the form of trade issues.

Even Obama doesn’t get terribly high marks from Pushkov.  He’s not been impressed with the “reset” pronounced by Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov, and insists “it needs another reset.”  Don’t worry, Alexey; Obama will have “more flexibility” after the election.  Didn’t Dmitri Medvedev transmit that to you?

All of this sounds oddly familiar to Politico’s James Hohmann.  “It’s a blast from the past that sounds reminiscent of what the Soviets said about Ronald Reagan in 1980,” Hohmann writes in the e-mail Morning Blast.  How well did that work out for Russia?  And how impressed will American voters be by Russia’s declarations of relative acceptability between Obama and Romney?  Not much, I’d guess.

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