The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

August 16, 2013

Putin snub deserved; go further

Why it matters Coddling the Russian president does little to advance U.S. causes

President Obama’s decision to cancel a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin drew some unwarranted and high-minded criticism.

The White House said the snub was not directly tied to Russia’s refusal to hand over Edward Snowden but rather the result of frustration by Obama to move on other serious issues including Russia backing of Syria’s Bashar Assad, intransigence on a missile defense treaty and human rights concerns.

In a recent press conference, Obama said “Frankly, on a whole range of issues where we think we can make some progress, Russia has not moved” and stated the U.S. should “take a pause (and) reassess where it is that Russia is going.”

Obama insists relations with Putin are not poor and “the truth is that when we’re in conversations together, oftentimes it’s very productive.”

There should be little concern over this political ploy since meetings are still being held between Russian and U.S. foreign policy and defense chiefs which they both say are very positive.

There also is continued agreement on the need to get a Syrian peace conference going.

Sen. John McCain last week said the president may not fully appreciate the true character of Putin: “He’s an old KGB colonel that has no illusions about our relationship, does not care about a relationship with the United States, continues to oppress his people, continues to act in an autocratic fashion.”

That’s a pretty blunt and accurate assessment of Putin. He really has no need for America to love him. It won’t matter to how he governs and in fact his tactics bolster his tough guy image that he’s crafted for domestic consumption.

It may be time to not only reassess where Russia is headed but where is the United States headed in continuing to expect Putin to change.

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