US “Duel Track Engagement Policy” Towards Russia
Strategic Culture Foundation
January 16 – 20 was the first working week of Michael McFaul, the new US ambassador to Russia. He had a whole series of formal and informal meetings. His get together behind close doors with Russia’s «non-systematic» opposition, emotionally inadequate speech at the Gaidar’s forum called «Russia and World: 2012-2020», as well as social networks statements made literally the very first days he took office gave rise to unconcealed outrage and even indignation in Moscow’s social and political circles.
What mission the new fledged ambassador is going to perform? Who’s interests it’s going to serve? What’s the purpose of his coming to Russia? And actually is he really an ambassador if he ignores once traditional professional diplomatic functions, one of them is by and large the same in all the countries: to strengthen relations between the country of accreditation and the one of your own. What do the representatives of «non-systematic» opposition have to do in the US Moscow Embassy in anticipation of presidential election? Money? Moral support? Paid US trips?
Fighting authorities in Russia for US money is a lucrative business. That’s the conclusion one may come to looking at the wealth of Boris Nemtsov, the most well known guest in Spaso House, the US ambassadors residence in Moscow, said one of Russia’s bloggers. The long duration meeting with McFaul showed who’s side the representatives of «non-systematic» opposition are on, said another known Russia’s blogosphere interlocutor.
The former Stanford professor he went up the state career ladder thanks to anti Russian materials and recommendations. With strong support from the State Department even after critical remarks made upon him here he plans to go on with his disgraceful activities. «The most important part of my job will be to foster more contacts between the people of the United States and the people of Russia. I’m interested in meeting not only government officials, but people from other political parties and movements, businessmen, civil society activists and regular Russians», – said the head of US diplomatic Moscow office in his video blog. It will be all done under the pretext of fostering contacts with «fighters for democracy», the democracy of the US brand that, as many Americans testify, is far from ideal, to put it mildly. The ambassador even called such meetings «a duel track policy». «Duel track» on the way to where? Overt and, at the same time, covert diplomacy under the pretext of «fostering contacts»?
Many Russian observers and bloggers think the Michael McFaul’s mission, that started in such a strange way, is to destabilize internal situation in Russia, incite wide scale anti government protests, introduce new pro-Western activists into Russian power structures, as well influence the Russian information space in the negative way.
«I’m very excited to be here in Russia in this new job to continue and strengthen the reset.», – the ambassador wrote on the US Embassy in Moscow website. But will his actions strengthen it? Do really the adventurist actions mentioned above serve the purpose of «reset» in the US-Russian relations?
To the contrary, they rather make see that the current US administration intends to continue tough pressure on Russia. It’s not military actions only, like deploying missile defense elements and tactical nuclear weapons near its borders, but simultaneous strong information political pressing as well. In fact, it’s not «reset» of bilateral relations, but rather their «overcharge», the word written in Russian on the symbolic button presented by State Secretary Hillary Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva a few years ago. So it happens that the new US ambassador to Moscow, the one who has the reputation of founding father of the «reset» of the US policy towards Kremlin, is in reality a driving force of «overcharge» of the US – Russian relations, that, even without it, are stagnated in practically all core aspects (with rare exception) of broad arms control agenda.
That’s why it can be said with good reason that his Gaidar’s forum statement about the improvement of relations between Moscow and Washington being the core goal of his tenure in Russia is a tirade to distract attention, the way the Russian proverb puts it «honey is sweet but the bee stings».
Here it’s hard to disagree with William Miller, former US ambassador to Ukraine, who, talking to the Voice of America Russian service, gave advise to Michael McFaul to work closely exclusively with the Russian government. He said the Michael McFaul’s mission was to promote further integration of new Russia and the West, the process that doesn’t have a long history – only twenty years. So whatever is to be done further exceeds by far what has been achieved before, – as the American diplomat put it.
But the grandiose amount of work lying ahead for US-Russia relations development could never be done by meeting those who don’t determine neither foreign nor internal Russian policy. Including by Michael McFaul. So it’s doubtful he will justify the high trust of President Barack Obama. That’s something to think about.