Russia’s foreign minister told Bloomberg news that the Russia “reset” was merely “the invention of Hillary Clinton and Obama administration.”
Sergei Lavrov noted that personal relations between Washington and Moscow were fine with the George W. Bush administration, and he “was on good terms with Condoleezza Rice but somehow this good personal chemistry did not go down to the practical political level.”
“And the American administration when Barack Obama became president, they reassessed the state of bilateral relations with Russia. And they decided that it is much better to have more forthcoming approach. It was a reset of the American policy vis-a-vis Russia. Then the presidential commission was created, 21, I think, working groups covering each and every imaginable area of human activity. And then all this was abruptly stopped because we could not and did not accept the coup which was strongly supported and welcomed by the United States. The coup in Ukraine,” Lavrov said.
“Now I think we are quite realistic. President Putin from time to time talks to President Obama over the phone. They are very pragmatic. They discuss specific areas of cooperation where both countries could benefit. And we do the same with John Kerry on a much more detailed level. I wouldn’t call it a new reset; I would call it the realization of the need for normalcy.”
Still, Lavrov didn’t see Kerry’s recent visit with Vladimir Putin as worth the press attention it ginned up. “I was a bit surprised that people paid so much attention to the fact that John Kerry spent several hours with the Russian leader and with his counterpart,” he said. He wouldn’t get into the “nitty gritty” of what was discussed at the meeting.
The foreign minister criticized the U.S. for a “crusade” against ISIS “without asking the Syrian government and without going to the Security Council.” Russia is a top arms supplier to Bashar al-Assad.
“I think that just obsession with the personality of President Assad is not making any good to the common cause of fighting terrorists,” he added. “…Saddam Hussein was the one person after whom the United States went and they ruined the country. Gaddafi is the same.”
In fact, Lavrov argued that Russia has been better at fighting ISIS because “we have been providing the necessary weapons to Iraqi government when the Americans were reluctant to do this because they wanted some, you know, conditions to be fulfilled by the Iraqi authorities.”