Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008
A victory for Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election would benefit Russia more than a win for his Republican rival, but there would be no immediate improvement in relations, a Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the lower house’s international committee, said he based his assessment on Obama’s personality rather than his party’s program: “He would be easier to deal with at a personal level for our president, and contacts would be more effective as a result.”
Kosachyov said Republican candidate John McCain “developed as a politician during the Cold War, and has spent most of his life fighting communism. He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and he is obviously continuing to fight on that front without differentiating between the former Soviet Union and modern Russia.”
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However, he said Obama’s stance on Russia does not differ fundamentally with that of McCain. “The presidential campaign [in the U.S.] coincided with events in the South Caucasus, which prompted Obama to take a more radical approach, which is regrettable.”
The United States was on the side of its close political ally Georgia in the armed conflict with Russia in August. Obama said Russia’s counterattacks against Georgia after Tbilisi’s offensive to retake a breakaway region were excessive. “There is no possible justification for these attacks,” he said. However, he also urged Georgia to show restraint.
McCain called for Russia to be ejected from the Group of Eight industrialized powers in the wake of the conflict, and declared in an anti-Russian speech: “We are all Georgians”.
Kosachyov said, however, that Obama “is a young politician without tunnel vision… who is able to hear new, breakthrough proposals.”
Illinois Senator Obama, 47, and the 72-year-old Arizona senator McCain, held their final televised debate last Wednesday ahead of the November 4 poll. Obama emerged the clear winner, for the third time, according to phone-in polls.
Russian analysts have been cautious in their comments on the future of Russia-U.S. ties after the election.
Andrei Kortunov, president of the New Eurasia foundation, warned against counting on better ties with the United States under a new administration. “Such hopes can lead to disappointment,” he said.
Kortunov said relations with the U.S. would pose a challenge to Russia, becoming more unpredictable if Obama were to be elected president.
“Relations between the U.S. and Russia could become more interesting, but Russian authorities would find it more difficult to deal with Obama. He will make world affairs more complicated,” the analyst said.
The head of the U.S. and Canada Institute agreed that bilateral ties would not undergo drastic changes after the election. Valery Garbuzov said Moscow should pursue “selective cooperation” with Washington focusing on common interests.
Relations between Russia and the U.S. have plunged to a post-Cold War low in recent years over a host of differences.
This article was posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 9:08 am