Russian FM: Don't blame us for the reset button, blame Hillary

Remember the rationale for Hillary Clinton’s infamous “reset button” with Russia, given to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov? Hillary and Barack Obama claimed that the issues with US-Russian relations were created by George W. Bush and Hillary’s predecessor Condoleezza Rice thank to the previous administration’s supposed cowboy diplomacy, and that Hillary and Obama would set things aright, both with Russia and with the rest of the world. Bloomberg asked Lavrov why the reset hasn’t worked, and Lavrov bluntly says the March 2009 reset “was the invention of Hillary Clinton.” In fact, Lavrov says, he and Vladimir Putin had “very good personal relations” with both Bush and Rice (via Daniel Halper):

Well, if you take the original reset, it was not our invention, it was the invention of Hillary Clinton and Obama administrations because with their predecessors, George Bush Jr., Vladimir Putin had very good personal relations. I was on good terms with Condoleezza Rice.

What’s Russian for “thrown under the bus”? Or for “Grandmaster trolling”? Of course, no one beats Russia for trolling these days anyway:

On the same day as the Ebola hoax, a totally different group of accounts began spreading a rumor that an unarmed black woman had been shot to death by police. They all used the hashtag #shockingmurderinatlanta. Here again, the hoax seemed designed to piggyback on real public anxiety; that summer and fall were marked by protests over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. In this case, a blurry video purports to show the shooting, as an onlooker narrates. Watching it, I thought I recognized the voice — it sounded the same as the man watching TV in the Columbian Chemicals video, the one in which ISIS supposedly claims responsibility. The accent was unmistakable, if unplaceable, and in both videos he was making a very strained attempt to sound American. Somehow the result was vaguely Australian.

Who was behind all of this? When I stumbled on it last fall, I had an idea. I was already investigating a shadowy organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, that spreads false information on the Internet. It has gone by a few names, but I will refer to it by its best known: the Internet Research Agency. The agency had become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters; it has often been called a “troll farm.” The more I investigated this group, the more links I discovered between it and the hoaxes. In April, I went to St. Petersburg to learn more about the agency and its brand of information warfare, which it has aggressively deployed against political opponents at home, Russia’s perceived enemies abroad and, more recently, me.

Back to Hillary and foreign policy. The “reset button” was a hilarious flop at the time it happened, thanks to lousy work by State Department translators, but its real failure became all too apparent later. Despite appeasement by Obama and the White House that went on for years — the withdrawal of the missile defense system in eastern Europe, the “more flexibility after the election” comment to Dmitry Medvedev — Putin ramped up military aggression, stole Crimea and then half of Ukraine, and now has his air force making provocative fly-bys against NATO and US pilots on a regular basis.

Hillary once said that the reset worked until she left office. It’s hard to sustain that against Lavrov’s contention that it wasn’t necessary in the first place, but it will be amusing to see Hillary and her team argue otherwise.

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