The failure of the U.S.-Russia reset in 9 photos

Obama and Putin at a June G8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland. (EPA/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/RIA NOVOSTI/KREM)
Obama and Putin at a June G-8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland. (EPA/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/RIA NOVOSTI/KREM)

It's been over five years since the United States and Russia vowed to "reset" their relationship. In that time, the two countries have had to grapple with disagreements over Syria, Iran and Libya, as well as Russia's welcome to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and the U.S. condemnation of a Russian-supported referendum in Crimea.

On Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on some of the highest ranking officials in the Russian government. Let's just say it: The reset is dead.

One interesting way to think of it is to look back over the years in photographs. Body language is an important way to understand what someone is thinking: So important that apparently the U.S. government has spent $300,000 studying the postures, hand signals, and facial movements of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. President Obama himself has observed that Putin had a “slouch" and looked like "that bored schoolboy in the back of the classroom” -- far from when President George W. Bush "looked the man in the eye" in 2001 and "was able to get a sense of his soul."

So how did that U.S. and Russian body language change over the years? See for yourself:

In 2009, the reset is announced. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presents Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a red button that is supposed to say 'reset' in Russian. It actually says 'overcharge.'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after she gave him a device with red knob during a meeting on March 6, 2009 in Geneva. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time in Geneva today. The dinner meeting will discuss world tensions, ranging from Afghanistan to a planned US missile shield in Europe and Iran's nuclear programme. It will also lay the ground for the first encounter between US President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev at a London summit next month. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after she gave him a device with red knob during a meeting on March 6, 2009 in Geneva.  FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Later that year, President Obama meets Vladimir Putin, then Russian prime minister, for the first time.

US President Barack Obama (2L) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (2R) converse while having traditional Russian tea and snacks on a terrace at Putin's residence outside Moscow in Novo-Ogarevo on July 7, 2009. Obama praised Vladimir Putin's "extraordinary work" as Russia's president and now prime minister, but admitted their two nations still do not agree on everything. (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)
President Obama (2L) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (2R) converse while having traditional Russian tea and snacks on a terrace at Putin's residence outside Moscow in Novo-Ogarevo on July 7, 2009. Obama praised Vladimir Putin's "extraordinary work" as Russia's president and now prime minister, but admitted their two nations still do not agree on everything. (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2010, Russian Preisdent Dimitry Medvedev, seen as a potential reformer, visits Washington. Medvedev later described the reset as a 'win-win' situation.

US President Barack Obama(R) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev make their way from the stage following a joint press conference June 24, 2010 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Obama(R) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev make their way from the stage following a joint press conference June 24, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.  MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2011 Vice President Biden visits Putin in Moscow, where they talk about Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization.

Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, left, geatures as he meets Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 10, 2011.The talks in Moscow are expected to focus on missile defense cooperation and Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Vice President Biden geatures as he meets Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 10, 2011.The talks in Moscow are expected to focus on missile defense cooperation and Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Putin, now president of Russia again, meets Obama in Mexico in 2012. Despite concern about Russia's handling of domestic protests and the controversial death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, relations are relatively amicable. Russia's membership of the WTO is accepted.

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012. The leaders are in Los Cabos to attend the G20 summit. REUTERS/Jason Reed
President Obama (R) meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012. The leaders are in Los Cabos to attend the G20 summit. REUTERS/Jason Reed

By 2013, however, things are getting a lot more strained, thanks to Edward Snowden and Russia's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One widely shared photograph from the G-8 meeting in Belfast is said to capture the mood.

Obama and Putin at a June G8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland. (EPA/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/RIA NOVOSTI/KREM)
Obama and Putin at a June 2013 G8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland. (EPA/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/RIA NOVOSTI/KREM)

In 2014, the fall of Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russia government in Ukraine creates a crisis. Here President Obama talks on the phone with Putin after reports that Russian troops have entered the Russian province of Crimea.


President Obama talking on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, 01 March 2014. The United States has condemned Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory and called on Russia to withdraw its forces back to bases in Crimea. The strongly worded statement came from the White House following a telephone call between Obama and Putin lasting 90 minutes. EPA/PETE SOUZA / THE WHITE HOUSE /

Later, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov in London in the hope of finding common ground on Syria. After the meeting, Lavrov told reporters they had 'no common views.'


Secretary of State John F. Kerry (R) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a photograph before their meeting at Winfield House, the home of the U.S. ambassador in London March 14, 2014. The United States and Russia will find it formidably difficult to make progress on Ukraine at talks in London today, British Foreign Minister William Hague said on Friday. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/pool

Perhaps the most damning of them all: Samantha Power, the U.N. ambassador confronts her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, after Russia blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution on Crimea's referendum.


Samantha Power (R), the American ambassador to the United Nations, talks to Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, before a vote regarding the Ukrainian crisis is taken at the U.N. Security Council in New York March 15, 2014. Russia on Saturday vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that declares a planned referendum on the status of Ukraine's Crimea region "can have no validity" and urges nations and international organizations not to recognize it. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
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Adam Taylor · March 17