A Display Of Contempt | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

A Display Of Contempt

Joe Biden’s administration insists that it wants to improve America’s badly frayed bilateral relationship with Russia. However, the president’s recent choice of an envoy for that task, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, strongly suggests a lack of sincerity on Washington’s part. Nuland was in Moscow for talks with senior Russian officials, including presidential aide Yury Ushakov, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Dmitry Kozak, October 11-13. Before she could even depart for her trip, though, the Kremlin had to lift a travel ban and other sanctions it had imposed on Nuland. That move occurred as part of a deal in which the United States lifted similar restrictions on Konstantin Vorontsov, a high-level foreign ministry official.

Nuland was a terrible choice for such a sensitive diplomatic mission. She is universally loathed among Russia’s leaders for her blatant hawkishness, and especially for her prominent role in supporting demonstrators who successfully ousted Ukraine’s elected, pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014 when she served as an assistant secretary of state in Barack Obama’s administration. Given her track record and the Russian government’s attitude toward her, it is at least a minor miracle that her latest venture did not end with further damage to Washington’s relations with Putin’s government. Instead, both sides described the talks as “productive” and “constructive,” which is standard diplomatic jargon for negotiations that didn’t accomplish much, but did not end in a shouting match or a fist fight.