Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov was present at the first “reset” between the US and Russia when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously presented him with a button that said “Reset” in English but something less friendly in Russian:
Clinton presented Lavrov with a gift-wrapped red button, which said “Reset” in English and “Peregruzka” in Russian. The problem was, “peregruzka” doesn’t mean reset. It means overcharged, or overloaded.
And Lavrov called her out on it.
“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked Lavrov.
“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means overcharged.”
There’s a YouTube clip of this unforced error. Do you think the GOP will use it against her in 2016?
Not likely. Hillary got a pass from the media then for this towering stupidity in 2009 and the entire incident has gone down the rabbit hole never to be brought up again.
But Lavrov may be tweaking Hillary a bit with this call for a “reset” of US-Russia relations, putting the onus squarely on the United States to improve ties.
Sergei Lavrov, who was minister during the 2010 “reset” of relations, said the current US administration had “wrecked much of the co-operation structures”.
“It is absolutely in our interests to normalise relations but we didn’t wreck them,” he told a Russian TV channel.
The US led sanctions against Russia this year over its actions in Ukraine.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March and has since been accused of fuelling the bloody insurrection in its eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, a charge it denies.
It has also differed sharply with the US and its Western allies over the conflict in Syria.
In June 2010, US President Barack Obama cemented the original “reset” at a summit when the then Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, visited the White House.
That initiative came after years of poor relations, notably after Russia’s summer war with Georgia, an aspiring Nato member, in 2008, when George W Bush was president.
“Now there’s a need for what the Americans might call a ‘reset’,” Mr Lavrov told Russia’s Channel Five (in Russian).
“The current US administration is today wrecking much of the co-operation structures that it created itself along with us. Most likely, something more will come up – a reset No 2 or a reset 2.0.”
Mr Lavrov said the situation was improving on the ground in Ukraine, where a shaky ceasefire has been in place for several weeks.
Nato reported this week that there had been a significant withdrawal of Russian conventional troops from inside eastern Ukraine, although many thousands remained just over the border.
Moscow has never acknowledged the presence of any Russian troops in Ukraine.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Obama accused Russia of pouring arms into the region but he also praised the recent ceasefire agreement between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels.
He promised to lift sanctions if Moscow worked through diplomatic means to secure a lasting peace.
It’s clear the Russians have given up on Obama. He never panned out to be quite the pushover they hoped and expected — and probably would have been if they hadn’t gone off half cocked and annexed Crimea. Their naked aggression forced Obama to reluctantly cancel the reset and treat them as an opponent rather than a partner.
That “reset” gimmick was probably forced on Hillary. She’s one of the few Democrats who never had any illusions about Putin or the Russians. What worries Lavrov — and American liberals — is that Clinton possesses a harder edge to her foreign policy outlook than most leftists, and that a Clinton presidency wouldn’t be burdened by Obama’s nonsensical naivete that led to the belief that America’s enemies can be our friends.
Clinton will almost certainly position herself to the right of Obama on foreign policy if she runs. Lavrov’s offer of a “reset” can be seen in the context that the next American president won’t have much of an opportunity to improve relations unless they accept the new Russian sphere of influence that includes the Ukraine as well as the Baltic states and former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe.