Russia’s Choice: Power Balancer or China’s Canada?

The reset between the Kremlin and the White House is dead.

Now, the question in Moscow is: what will replace it?

Given that Putin may run Russia for another 5 or 10 years, he now has to decide which road to take:

Continued anti-Americanism and gluing Russia to China?

Or aspiring to the triangular, balancing position that Moscow played between Beijing and Washington in the 1970s?

The “reset” – now seen as a lost era of good feelings – was a product of the new Obama administration and the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev.

But after Putin returned to the Kremlin 15 months ago, he gave Russia a hard right turn. He jailed opposition leaders, curbed civil society, closed human rights groups, and purged the Duma to make for unanimous votes in the style of the old Supreme Soviet.

To prepare and sustain public opinion, his government launched an anti-American campaign – accusing the State Department of funding opposition rallies, closing USAID and other aid programs, banning American parents from adopting Russian orphans and, most recently, granting asylum to Edward Snowden, the fugitive leaker from the National Security Administration.

Creating a straw enemy out of the United States had an extra bonus, giving the Kremlin political cover for a $700 billion military rearmament program. (No matter that virtually all US tanks have been shipped out of Europe. No one in Moscow dares to associate the military buildup with the country that shares 3,645 kilometers in land borders with Russia).

The anti-American campaign was created largely to bolster Putin’s conservative, TV-viewing, domestic audience.

But it turns out the wrong people were listening.

Full article: Russia’s Choice: Power Balancer or China’s Canada? (Georgia Today)

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