​Washington prepares for diplomatic war of attrition with Russia

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

The US reportedly expects that the ongoing confrontation with Russia would continue until at least 2024 and involve many directions. Washington wants to rally support of its European allies to continue mounting pressure on Moscow.

The expected diplomatic
and economic war of attrition is being outlined in a Russia
policy review currently prepared by Celeste Wallander, special
assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director for
Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council, reports
Italian newspaper La Stampa. The publication said it learned
details of the upcoming policy change from a preview that
Washington sent to the Italian government to coordinate the
future effort.

US diplomats say Russia changed the cooperative stance it assumed
after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is now using force to
defend its national interests, the paper said. The change is
attributed to the personality of Russian President Vladimir
Putin, who, Washington expects, will remain in power until at
least 2024.

The change became apparent with the conflict in Ukraine, but was
emerging since at least the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia, when
Russia used military force after Georgia sent its army to subdue
the rebellious region, killing Russian peacekeepers in the

Washington’s solution to the new Russia is keeping sanctions
pressure on it while luring its neighbors away with economic aid
and investment, La Stampa said. The current round of sanctions,
it reports, was designed not to have too much impact on the
Russian economy so that a threat of harsher sanctions could be

While the tug of war in Europe continues into the next decade,
Washington wants to continue cooperation with Russia in other
areas like nuclear non-proliferation and space exploration.
However until Putin is out of the picture, the US does not expect
for things to go back to where they were, the newspaper said.

The strategy was hardly unnoticed in Moscow, as evidenced by the
annual report of the Russian Foreign Ministry published on
Wednesday. The document said the US is pursuing “a systematic
obstruction to Russia, rallying its allies with the goal to
damage domestic economy”
through blocking credits,
technology transferee and an overall destabilization of the
business environment.

The ministry said Washington had some success with the policy
that resulted in an almost 8 percent drop of Russia’s trade with
EU members in 2014. However some European countries like Austria,
Hungary or Slovakia are pragmatically keeping bilateral ties with
Russia active. In European heavyweight Germany, whose government
is among the leading supporters of the anti-Russian sanctions,
there is a strong business resistance to keeping them.

Non-EU members in the region like Serbia and Turkey are among
priority partners for Russia in the current environment, the
ministry added.

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