It’s not exactly a surprise that Vladimir Putin won his election with reports of rampant fraud. The Post reports: “Well before the polls had closed, independent election monitors as well as the Communist Party reported numerous instances across the country of multiple voting, abuse of absentee ballots and obstruction of election observers. If backed by plausible evidence, the allegations would cast further doubt on the legitimacy of an election that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily. Electoral fraud was so rampant during December parliamentary voting that all but the most minor irregularities during this election are sure to be seized upon by opposition organizers.”
The White House and State Department were mute yesterday, but soon the administration will have to react to the latest bit of evidence that “reset” has been a sham. At home, Putin’s thugocracy has racked up a dreadful human rights record and now, once again, stolen an election. Internationally, Russia — to the shock (!) of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — blocked United Nations action against Syria. Russia continues to arm Bashar al-Assad.
And look what Russia has gotten. We put the screws to our democratic ally Georgia to let Russia into the World Trade Organization. We dragged our heels on arming the still-occupied Georgia. We pulled the rug out from our allies Poland and the Czech Republic and removed anti-missile defense units. We passed a START agreement that raises serious questions about restrictions on our missile defense development. And the administration and it allies have even dragged their feet on passing human rights legislation that would put abusers on a do-not travel list. And Russia reportedly was not constructive within the Quartet during the time the administration was looking to short-circuit the Palestinians’ unilateral declaration of statehood.
The justification for “reset” was Russian cooperation with blocking Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But that has proved illusory. Five Russian scientists (killed in a plane crash recently) helped design Iran’s Bushehr facility. Russia now regularly issues warnings against an Israeli attack on Iran and against further sanctions.
And on Sunday we learned: “Alexander Polischuk, the chairman of the Russia–Iran friendship group, has said the Islamic Republic, like many other countries, has the right to enrich uranium and have access to full nuclear fuel cycle. Speaking to the Voice of Russia, Polischuk said that the main obstacle to the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program is that from time to time the representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency, inspectors and even some representatives of the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany), may put forward some unrealistic preconditions for negotiations, which are not acceptable for the Iranians.”
In short, “reset” has been nothing more than appeasement that has allowed Russia to oppress its people with impunity and act in ways contrary to our and our allies’ security interests. I anxiously await the White House’s reaction to the election fraud. How long can Obama keep up the pretense that he has a coherent and successful Russia policy?