The State Department spun Moscow’s decision to end USAID pro-democracy activities in Russia as far less than the latest blow to the White House’s “reset” that it is.
The U.S. Agency for International Development has invested more than $2.6 billion toward Russia’s social and economic development since the fall of the Soviet Union.
“USAID works with Russia as a partner to solve development challenges both within Russia and in third countries,” according to the agency. “Local Russian organizations implement over half of USAID’s activities in the country in the areas of health, civil society, rule of law, local governance and conflict mitigation.”
The Kremlin has been heavily criticized for backsliding on the rule of law, including the recent 2-year prison sentences for the punk band Pussy Riot after an anti-Putin protest.
But the State Department tried to spin the expulsion in a positive light.
“The United States recently received the Russian Government’s decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation. We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID’s programs,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said today in a statement.
“While USAID’s physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations,” she added.