American relations with Russia have barely been mentioned in this year’s primary discussions even though Senator McCain has termed President Putin a revancist and suggested he be expelled from the G8. The Moscow Times asked advisers for McCain and Obama to discuss their views of President Putin. Stepehn Biegun, a McCain adviser, who served under Bush, indicated he shared the views of many Republican conservative who are frustrated by Bush’s appeasement of the Russian leader. “It’s very difficult for countries to maintain over time a strong level of cooperation simply anchored in an opporunistic judgment of shared interests. There has to be more.” He noted McCain’s strong support for establishing missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Michael McFaul, Obama’s chief strategist, termed the candidate “an engagment guy, not an isolation guy” who is willing to discuss issues even with those with whom he disagrees. He pointed out Obama said a missile-defense system should be deployed only if it “would protect us and our alies” and “only after the system works.” Obama believes Bush has exaggerated the effectiveness of missile defense systems.
McFaul has long advocated offering NATO membership to Russia as a means to solve transcontinentl disputes, an idea that Beigun described as “Polyannaish.” Both agreed Bush’s Russian policies have failed on issues such as human rights and energy security.
There is no doubt a McCain presidency would be more hostile towards Russia and most probably would result in angry confrontations. Obama and Clinton are more likely to work to resolve problems and hope new President Medvedev would be ready to move his nation back on the road to genuine democracy.