Hugo Chavez has called President Obama ignorant, the Mullahs of Iran have shown him no respect, Castro put him in his place, and now the Russian news agency Pravda has unleashed their disdain for Obama. I guess that the leftist fantasy of everyone getting along after Obama takes office is not happening.
Obama assured of a chilly Russian welcome despite first signs of thaw
Published Date: 04 July 2009
By Chris Stephen in New York
BARACK Obama will have few traffic problems getting to the Kremlin for his first summit with Russian president Dmitri Medvedev on Monday – the Obamamania that has swept much of the rest of the world is absent from Moscow; there will be no adoring crowds to greet him.
A recent poll by Russia's Levada Centre found only 23 per cent of citizens believe the US president will "do the right thing in world affairs", with many doubting his promise of change will heal antagonisms between Russia and the West.
A long list of issues – from Nato's eastward expansion, to missile defence, to human rights, to the contest for oil and gas in Central Asia – continue to poison relations between the former Cold War superpowers.
Russian news agency Pravda was less than subtle in an editorial summing up the Obama administration, headlined: "Obama: Deceiver, cheat, swindler, liar, fraudster, con-artist."
The root cause of the antagonism is a belief in the Kremlin that relations with the West must inevitably be a "zero-sum" game – every gain for the West is a loss for Russia.
Masha Lipman, of the Moscow Carnegie Centre research group, said: "Russia has negative priorities, so-called 'red lines', such as Nato enlargement that might include Georgia or Ukraine."
But America needs Russian co-operation on a host of global issues – for example, the Start treaty limiting the number of nuclear warheads held by Moscow and Washington expires in December and a new one must be negotiated. Those negotiations will be complicated by Russia's anger at US plans to deploy a missile defence shield in the Czech Republic.
Washington also sees Russia as playing a pivotal role in the diplomatic chess game Mr Obama has launched in the Middle East and Asia, which will rely on unity among the big powers to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, combat the Taleban and prod Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks.
Michael McFaul, Mr Obama's director for Russian and Eurasian affairs, said: "There are ways that we can co-operate to advance our interests, and at the same time do things with the Russians that are good for them as well."
Climate change is one such issue, and Mr Obama will also find common ground with his Russian counterpart in his two days of talks on efforts to tackle the global recession, terrorism and drug trafficking.
And Mr Medvedev is ignoring Mr Obama's criticism of Mr Putin. In a statement on the Kremlin website, he said: "The new US administration headed by President Obama is now demonstrating readiness to change the situation, and build more effective, reliable and ultimately more modern relations. And we are ready for this."
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