Andrew Kuchina, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently attended the Vaidai Discussion Club meeting in Moscow and was saddened by the American attitude toward Russia which he regards as misguided and could result in a worse attitude than was present in the Cold War. Russian presenters at the discussion all sang the same song, “we don’t want a new era of confrontation, but the choice is yours.” But, Secretary of Rice at the same time was insisting “the decision is Russia’s and Russia’s alone.” Kuchina found most Russian experts believed there nation was correct in responding to the Georgia invasion of South Ossetia. President Medvedev said he talked with George Bush during the crisis and was told by the president, “what do you need this for?” and he responded, “George, I had no choice, and if you were in my shoes, you would have done exactly the same, only more brutally.”
Kuchina believes the United States simply does not grasp that constructing missile bases in Poland is interpreted in Moscow as a provocative action that is bent on showing America can do as it wishes and Russia must accept Bush actions without protest. Medvedev said at Valdai, “We will not tolerate any more humiliation, and we are not joking.” From a Russian perspective, the defeat of Serbia, the independence of Kosovo, the expansion of NATO eastward, and building missile bases on its border are examples of America pushing its interests at the expense of Russia.
Kuchina hopes future American administrations will treat “Russia more like a real partner to achieve long-term objectives in the interests of all parties.” Perhaps, a President Obama can fulfill these goals.