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Obama’s Feckless Foreign Policy Emboldened Russia

- February 21, 2018

Russia's 2016 Meddling Didn't Occur In A Vacuum

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TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Bloomberg 's Eli Lake: "It's no wonder Putin thought he could meddle in the U.S. He had gotten away with everything else he tried."
    • Leon Panetta: Perceived "weakness" encouraged Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.
    • Robert Gates: Putin felt he could take advantage of America under Obama.
  • In 2009, President Barack Obama called for a "reset" in relations between the U.S. and Russia, but by the end of Obama's time in office, the Russia Reset was widely viewed as a failure.
    • The architect of the "reset" and U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, warned future administrations not to pursue a similar policy and former President Bill Clinton conceded the Russia "reset" did not have a major impact.
  • Politico Magazine : "Today's liberal Russia hawks would have us believe that they've always been clear-sighted about Kremlin perfidy and mischief. They're displaying amnesia not just over a single law but the entire foreign policy record of the Obama administration. From the reset, which it announced in early 2009 just months after Russia invaded Georgia, to its removal of missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland later that year, to its ignoring Russia's violations of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (while simultaneously negotiating New START) and its ceding the ground in Syria to Russian military intervention, the Obama administration's Russia policy was one, protracted, eight-year-long concession to Moscow."
  • President Obama bragged that after he confronted Putin over meddling in the 2016 election and told Putin to "cut it out … we did not see further tampering of the election process," but recent news reports show that a Russian troll farm persisted in its meddling even after.

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OBAMA'S NAÏVE FOREIGN POLICY EMBOLDENED RUSSIA

Russia's Decision To Interfere In The 2016 Presidential Election Didn't Occur In A Vacuum

Bloomberg 's Eli Lake: " It's No Wonder Putin Thought He Could Meddle In The U.S. He Had Gotten Away With Everything Else He Tried." (Eli Lake, Op-Ed, "Obama Choked On Russia Long Before The 2016 Election," Bloomberg View , 6/27/17)

  • Lake: "So Why Did Putin Believe He Could Treat America Like It Was Estonia? The Answer Is That Obama Spent The First Six Years Of His Presidency Turning A Blind Eye To Russian Aggression." "Rather than asking why Obama didn't do more to stop Russian meddling, the better question is why President Vladimir Putin thought he could get away with this interference in the first place. In every respect, the U.S. is more powerful than Russia. It has a much larger economy. Its military is superior. Its cyber capabilities are greater. Its diplomatic position is stronger. So why did Putin believe he could treat America like it was Estonia? The answer is that Obama spent the first six years of his presidency turning a blind eye to Russian aggression." (Eli Lake, Op-Ed, "Obama Choked On Russia Long Before The 2016 Election," Bloomberg View , 6/27/17)

Former Obama Defense Secretary And CIA Director Leon Panetta Said Perceived "Weakness" Encouraged Russia To Direct Cyber-Attacks Against The United States And Interfere With The 2016 Election. "Former Obama defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta says perceived 'weakness' encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to direct cyber-attacks against the United States and interfere with the 2016 election." (Jennifer Griffin and Lucas Tomlinson, 'Panetta: Russia Hacked US Because Of Perceived 'Weakness,'" Fox News , 6/27/17)

Obama's Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Said Obama's Failure To Match His Actions To His Tough Rhetoric May Have Given Russia The Impression That It Could Interfere With The U.S. Electoral System Without Consequence. "President Obama's failure to match his actions to his tough rhetoric may have given Russia the impression that it could interfere with the U.S. electoral system without consequence, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested Sunday. Gates was asked during a Sunday appearance on NBC's 'Meet the Press' whether Russian President Vladimir Putin may have pursued hack-and-release operations against the U.S. because he perceived Obama had become 'soft' on Moscow and wouldn't retaliate if Putin were caught. … "And I think Putin felt he could take advantage of that," he said." (Gabby Morrongiello, "Gates: Russia Took Advantage Of Obama's Weak Leadership," Washington Examiner , 2/21/18)

"Former U.S. Ambassador To The United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad Says Russian President Vladimir Putin Is Taking Advantage Of President Obama's "Weakness" On The Global Stage." (Bradford Richardson, "Ex-UN Envoy: Putin Taking Advantage Of Obama's 'Weakness," The Hill , 10/17/15)

Politico Magazine: “Today’s liberal Russia hawks would have us believe that they’ve always been clear-sighted about Kremlin perfidy and mischief. They’re displaying amnesia not just over a single law but the entire foreign policy record of the Obama administration. From the reset, which it announced in early 2009 just months after Russia invaded Georgia, to its removal of missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland later that year, to its ignoring Russia’s violations of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (while simultaneously negotiating New START) and its ceding the ground in Syria to Russian military intervention, the Obama administration’s Russia policy was one, protracted, eight-year-long concession to Moscow.” (James Kirchick, “Why It’s Hard To Take Democrats Seriously On Russia,” Politico, 7/24/17)

Obama's Naïve View Of Russia

During A 2008 Presidential Debate, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) Warned That Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) Views On Russia Were Naïve. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): "Well, I was interested in Senator Obama's reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, 'Both sides ought to show restraint.' Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn't understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government. I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes, and I saw three letters, a 'K,' a 'G,' and a 'B.' And their aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behavior. … I've been involved, as I mentioned to you before, in virtually every major national security challenge we've faced in the last 20-some years. There are some advantages to experience, and knowledge, and judgment. And I -- and I honestly don't believe that Senator Obama has the knowledge or experience and has made the wrong judgments in a number of areas, including his initial reaction to Russian invasion -- aggression in Georgia, to his -- you know, we've seen this stubbornness before in this administration to cling to a belief that somehow the surge has not succeeded and failing to acknowledge that he was wrong about the surge is -- shows to me that we -- that -- that we need more flexibility in a president of the United States than that." (Transcript, First Presidential Debate , Oxford, Mississippi, 9/26/08)

During A Trip To Moscow In 2009, President Obama Said He Wanted To See A "Strong" Russia. PRESIDENT OBAMA: "To begin with, let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia. This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition. Despite our past rivalry, our people were allies in the greatest struggle of the last century. Recently, I noted this when I was in Normandy -- for just as men from Boston and Birmingham risked all that they had to storm those beaches and scale those cliffs, Soviet soldiers from places like Kazan and Kiev endured unimaginable hardships to repeal -- to repel an invasion, and turn the tide in the east. As President John Kennedy said, 'No nation in history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War.'" (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The New Economic School Graduation , Moscow, Russia, 7/7/09)

In 2012, President Obama Mocked Mitt Romney For Saying Russia Was The U.S.' Biggest Geopolitical Foe, And Quipped "The 1980s Are Now Calling To Ask For Their Foreign Policy Back." "'Gov. Romney, I'm glad you recognize al-Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what is the biggest geopolitical group facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaida,' Obama said. 'You said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back. Because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.'" (Jillian Rayfield, "Obama: The 80's Called, They Want Their Foreign Policy Back," Salon , 10/11/12)

In 2014, President Obama Asserted That Russia Was A "Regional Power" That Did Not Pose A Leading Security Threat To The United States. "President Obama acknowledged Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea would be difficult to reverse, but he dismissed Russia as a 'regional power' that did not pose a leading security threat to the United States." (Scott Wilson, "Obama Dismisses Russia As 'Regional Power' Acting Out Of Weakness," The Washington Post , 03/25/14)

  • By July 2015, Marine Corps Chief Lt. Gen. Robert Neller Pointed To Russia As Posing "The Greatest Threat" To The United States. SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): "Sir, with that being said, I've asked this question to everyone who's come to this committee for their approval, and that would be, what do you assess as the greatest risk or threat the United States of America faces from another country?" MARINE CORPS CHIEF LT. GEN. ROBERT NELLER: "If you are asking me about a country, Senator, who poses the greatest threat, I would say another nation-state, I would agree with General Dunford that Russia has the most increasing capable force, and their actions and the fact that they have strategic forces make them the greatest potential threat, although I don't think they want to fight us. Right now I don't think they want to kill Americans. I think violent extremists want to kill us. And their capability is not that great but their intent is high." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing , 7/23/15)
  • By July 2015, Army Chief Of Staff Gen. Mark Milley Asserted That Russia Is The Greatest National Security Threat To The United States. MANCHIN: "What do you consider the greatest threat the United States of America faces, national security, as far as the country?" ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF GEN. MARK MILLEY: "As a soldier, as a military officer, I'd have to say that it's Russia." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing , 7/21/15)
  • By July 2015, The Vice Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff Gen. Paul Selva Said Russia Presents The Top Threat To The United States. VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF GEN. PAUL SELVA: "I would put the threats to this nation in the following order: Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, and all of the organization that have grown around the ideology that was articulated by al Qaeda early in the turn of the century." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing , 7/14/15)

OBAMA'S FAILED RUSSIA RESET

In His First Term In Office, President Obama Pledged To "Reset" Relations Between The United States And Russia

In 2009, President Obama "Called For A 'Reset' In Relations Between The United States And Russia" And A "Fresh Start Between The Kremlin And The White House." PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "These assumptions are wrong. In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over. As I said in Cairo, given our independence, any world order that -- given our interdependence, any world order that tries to elevate one nation or one group of people over another will inevitably fail. The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game -- progress must be shared. That's why I have called for a 'reset' in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House -- though that is important and I've had excellent discussions with both your President and your Prime Minister. It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress." (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The New Economic School Graduation , Moscow, Russia, 7/7/09)

By 2015, The Obama Administration's Russia Reset Was Viewed As A Failure And U.S.-Russia Relations Were At Their Lowest Since The Cold War

In Her Final Weeks As Secretary Of State, Hillary Clinton Wrote A Memo To Obama Warning "That Relations With Russia Had Hit A Low Point And The Heralded 'Reset' In Relations Was Over." "In her final weeks as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton wrote a private memo to President Barack Obama warning that relations with Russia had hit a low point and the heralded 'reset' in relations was over, according to people who saw the document." (Peter Nicholas, Adam Entous, and Carol E. Lee, "Hillary Clinton's Legacy At State Dept.: A Hawk With Clipped Wings," The Wall Street Journal , 5/30/14)

Reuters Reported In September 2014, That Relations With Russia Were At "Their Lowest Level Since The End Of The Cold War." "Washington and Brussels accuse Moscow of supporting a pro-Russian rebellion in east Ukraine and have imposed sanctions, which they have repeatedly tightened since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March. The conflict has brought relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest level since the end of the Cold War." (Gabriela Baczynska, "Russia's Lavrov Says Ties With Washington Needs 'Reset 2.0,'" Reuters , 9/28/14)

In 2015, Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia Under President Obama And Architect Of The Reset Michael McFaul Offered This Advice For The Next President Concerning A Russia Reset: "Don't Try That Again." "Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, a key architect of President Barack Obama's attempt to 'reset' relations with Moscow, has some advice for the next president: Don't try that again. 'Don't say, 'We need another reset with Russia.' And I'm the guy that said that to the president the last time around in the Oval Office,' McFaul told Yahoo News, describing his support for the effort to reboot relations with Russia in 2009." (Olivier Knox, "Russia 'Reset' Architect To Next President: Don't Try That Again," Yahoo! News , 5/27/15)

At A Campaign Rally in 2016, Former President Bill Clinton Conceded That The Russia Reset Had Few Accomplishments And Went From "Our Attempt To Do Better" To "Estrangement." FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: "The only thing that has survived the estrangement of the United States and Russia from our attempt to do better is something called the New START Treaty, negotiated by Hillary's State Department, which makes us much safer from this prospect from an accidental or intentional nuclear exchange. In a dangerous world, I think that's a pretty good deal." (Bill Clinton, Remarks At a Hillary Clinton Campaign Rally , Nashua, NH, 1/4/16)

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CONSISTENTLY RESPONDED WEAKLY TO RUSSIAN ACTS OF ESPIONAGE AND CYBER ATTACKS

In June 2010, The Obama Administration Downplayed A Russia Spy Ring Operating In The U.S. And Emphasized The Hope For Good Will Going Forward

In June 2010, A Ring Of 11 Illegal Immigrant Russian Spies Operating Without Diplomatic Cover Were Arrested. "The White House response was notably restrained following the dramatic announcement that 11 people assigned a decade or more to illegally infiltrate American society had been arrested. They are accused of using fake names and claims of U.S. citizenship to burrow into U.S. society and ferret out intelligence as Russian 'illegals' spies operating without diplomatic cover." (Robert Burns, "US State Department Plays Down Fallout In Spy Case," The Associated Press , 6/29/10)

The Associated Press Headline: "US State Department Plays Down Fallout In Spy Case" (Robert Burns, "US State Department Plays Down Fallout In Spy Case," The Associated Press , 6/29/10)

The State Department Stressed "Context" On The "Spying Issue." "'I think you should see this spying issue in that context. We feel we have made significant progress in the 18 months that we have been pursuing this different relationship with Russia,' Gordon added. 'We think we have something to show for it.'" (Robert Burns, "US State Department Plays Down Fallout In Spy Case," The Associated Press , 6/29/10)

When Asked If There Would "Any Diplomatic Consequences" Due To The Russian Spying, A State Department Spokesman Said " I'm Not Projecting Any Diplomatic Consequences Other Than The Good Will That We Hope Will Be There Going Forward." QUESTION: "On the first question on the - on her first question about the spy case - can you update us on any diplomatic contacts that?" STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESMAN PJ CROWLEY: "We continue our dialogue with Russian officials both here in Washington and in Moscow. And as we've made clear and I think as officials in Moscow have made clear, we are going to work as hard as we can to move beyond this and continue to focus on the many issues with which we have common interest and that our focus is on the process going forward." QUESTION: "Do you expect there to be any diplomatic consequences for this, whether that includes PNG'ing any of the supposed handlers?" CROWLEY: "I'm not projecting any diplomatic consequences other than the good will that we hope will be there going forward to continue to focus on the issues that - where we agree and to engage constructively in the areas where we disagree." QUESTION: "And there have been none so far, correct?" CROWLEY: "Right." (Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, 6/30/10)

According To A Memoir By Obama's Former Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, Obama Was Mad That Robert Muller And Leon Panetta Wanted To Arrest The Spy Ring Because It Could Jeopardize Friendly Relations With Russia. "This lax approach to Russia was captured in the memoir of Obama's former defense secretary, Robert Gates. He wrote that Obama at first was angry at his FBI director, Robert Mueller, and his CIA director, Leon Panetta, for recommending the arrest in 2010 of a network of illegal Russian sleeper agents the FBI had been tracking for years. 'The president seemed as angry at Mueller for wanting to arrest the illegals and at Panetta for wanting to exfiltrate the source from Moscow as he was at the Russians,' Gates wrote. He quoted Obama as saying: "Just as we're getting on track with the Russians, this? This is a throwback to the Cold War. This is right out of John le Carré. We put START, Iran, the whole relationship with Russia at risk for this kind of thing?" Gates recounts that the vice president wanted to ignore the entire issue because it threatened to disrupt an upcoming visit from Russia's president at the time, Dmitry Medvedev." (Eli Lake, Op-Ed, "Obama Choked On Russia Long Before The 2016 Election," Bloomberg View , 6/27/17)

Russia Hackers Penetrated The State Department And White House Unclassified Computer Systems

In November 2014, Russian Hackers Hacked Into The State Department's Unclassified Computer System. "Over a 24-hour period, top U.S. cyber defenders engaged in a pitched battle with Russian hackers who had breached the unclassified State Department computer system and displayed an unprecedented level of aggression that experts warn is likely to be turned against the private sector. Whenever National Security Agency hackers cut the attackers' link between their command and control server and the malware in the U.S. system, the Russians set up a new one, current and former U.S. officials said. The new details about the November 2014 incident emerged recently in the wake of a senior NSA official's warning that the heightened aggression has security implications for firms and organizations unable to fight back." (Ellen Nakashima, "New Details Emerge About 2014 Russian Hack Of The State Department: It Was 'Hand To Hand Combat," The Washington Post , 4/3/17)

  • "From There, The Hackers Spread Through The State Department's Sprawling Network That Includes Machines In Thousands Of Offices Across The U.S., Embassies And Other Outposts." (Danny Yadron, "Three Months Later, State Department Hasn't Rooted Out Hackers," The Wall Street Journal , 2/19/15)

Russian Hackers Were Able To Use Their Perch Within The State Department To Penetrate The White House's Unclassified Computer System. "Russian hackers behind the damaging cyber intrusion of the State Department in recent months used that perch to penetrate sensitive parts of the White House computer system, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation. While the White House has said the breach only affected an unclassified system, that description belies the seriousness of the intrusion. The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president's schedule. While such information is not classified, it is still highly sensitive and prized by foreign intelligence agencies, U.S. officials say." (Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, "How The U.S. Thinks Russians Hacked The White House," CNN , 4/8/15)

Bloomberg’s Eli Lake Questioned In July 2016, Why Russia Had Gotten Off The Hook With The Previous Hack Of The State Department In 2014. “All of this raises the question why Russia has gotten off the hook when other countries haven’t. After all, this isn't the first time the Russians have done this kind of thing. U.S. officials have alleged that Russia was also responsible for hacking the State Department's unclassified email system in 2015 and other unclassified White House computer networks.” (Eli Lake, Op-Ed, “Why Russia Keeps Getting Away With Hacking America,” Bloomberg View, 07/31/16)

Following Russia's Meddling In The 2016 Presidential Elections, The Obama Administration Issued Only A "Modest" Response That Was Later Criticized For Being Disproportionate In Severity

In August 2016, President Obama Received Intelligence That Russian Was Engaged In A Cyber Campaign To Disrupt The 2016 U.S. Presidential Race. "Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried 'eyes only' instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race." (Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, "Obama's Secret Struggle To Punish Russia For Putin's Election Assault," The Washington Post , 06/23/17)

By Late December, Obama Only Approved A "Largely Symbolic" And "Modest Package" Of Punishment For Russia's Interference, Including The Closure Of Two Compounds And The Expulsion Of 35 Diplomats. "But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues - expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds - with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic." (Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, "Obama's Secret Struggle To Punish Russia For Putin's Election Assault," The Washington Post , 06/23/17)

  • The Washington Post : Obama's Economic Sanctions Were "So Narrowly Targeted That Even Those Who Helped Design Them Describe Their Impact As Largely Symbolic." "But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues - expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds - with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic." (Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, "Obama's Secret Struggle To Punish Russia For Putin's Election Assault," The Washington Post , 06/23/17)

President Obama Said That Following His Warning To Putin That Russia Needs To Stop Interfering With The Election, There Was No Further Tampering Of The Election Process Except For The Leaks Through Wikileaks Leaks "And so in early September, when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that, that didn't happen was to talk to him directly. And tell him to cut it out, and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn't. And in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process but the leaks through wikileaks had already occurred." (President Barack Obama, President Obama's Final End-Of-Year Press Conference , Washington, D.C., 12/16/16)

  • The Washington Post Reported That A Russian Propaganda Organization Called The Internet Research Agency Continued Its Operations Up To And After The 2016 Election . "Nov. 3, 2016. A post at the Instagram account "Blacktivist" promotes Jill Stein as an alternative. Nov. 8, 2016. Trump is elected president. The aftermath. Nov. 12, 2016. The Agency continues its efforts to divide the country, hosting dueling protests in New York. One is meant to "show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump," and another called "Trump is NOT my President." Nov. 19, 2016. The Agency organizes a rally in Charlotte called "Charlotte Against Trump." Jan. 20, 2017. Trump is inaugurated." (Philip Bump, "Timeline: How Russian Trolls Allegedly Tried To Throw The 2016 Election To Trump," The Washington Post , 02/16/18)

A Former Senior Official Said He Felt The Administration Had "Choked" In Their Handling Of The Russian Hacking . "A former senior official involved in White House deliberations on Russia, who was not named by the Post, is quoted as saying: "It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. I feel like we sort of choked." (David Smith and Sabrina Siddiqui, "New Details Of Russia Election Hacking Raise Questions About Obama's Response," The Guardian , 06/23/17)

Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia, Michael McFaul Stated "The Punishment Did Not Fit The Crime ." "The punishment did not fit the crime," the former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said of the US sanctions. (David Smith and Sabrina Siddiqui, "New Details Of Russia Election Hacking Raise Questions About Obama's Response," The Guardian , 06/23/17)

Ranking Member Of The House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Said That The "Obama Administration Should Have Done A Lot More" Concerning Russia's Intervention In U.S. Elections. "Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, also said Donald Trump's complaints about White House inaction, tweeted after the Washington Post reported that Barack Obama knew about Russian interference as far back as August 2016, were like 'knowingly receiving stolen property [and] blaming police for not stopping the theft.' 'I think the Obama administration should have done a lot more when it became clear that not only was Russia intervening but it was being directed at the highest levels of the Kremlin,' Schiff said. (Martin Pengelly, "Top Democrat Schiff Criticizes Obama Over Reaction To Russian Hacks," The Guardian , 06/25/17)

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CONSISTENTLY ADOPTED A POLICY OF CONCILIATION AND ACQUIESCENCE TO RUSSIA

In 2009, The Obama Administration Overhauled America's European Missile Defense Plans Due To Russian Objections

"In September 2009, The Obama Administration, Recognizing Moscow's Concerns, Announced A Major Overhaul In Its European Missile Defense Plans." "In September 2009, the Obama administration, recognizing Moscow's concerns, announced a major overhaul in its European missile defense plans." (Greg Bruno, "National Missile Defense: A Status Report," Council On Foreign Relations , 9/17/09)

The Obama Administration's "New Approach" Removed The "Single Field Of Ten Ground-Based Interceptors In Poland" And The "Field European Radar That Was To Be Located In The Czech Republic." "The new approach, the White House said, would 'strengthen defenses against the growing Iranian missile threat' while providing an 'adaptable architecture' for addressing future threats in the region. The principle changes, White House and Pentagon leaders said, will be the reliance on sea-based interceptors (such as the Aegis weapons system, equipped with SM-3 missiles) and forward-based radar arrays, 'removing the need for a single field of ten ground-based interceptors in Poland' and a 'fixed European radar that was to be located in the Czech Republic.'" (Greg Bruno, "National Missile Defense: A Status Report," Council On Foreign Relations , 9/17/09)

In March 2009, It Was Disclosed President Obama Sent A Secret Letter To Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, "Suggesting That [Obama] Would Back Off Deploying A New Missile Defense System" If Moscow Would "Help Stop Iran From Developing Long-Range Weapons." "President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia's president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday." (Peter Baker, David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, "Obama Suggests U.S. May Rethink Antimissile Plan," The New York Times , 3/3/09)

The Letter Explicitly Said The U.S. Would Not Proceed With Missile Defense Systems If Iran Dropped Efforts To Build Nuclear Weapons. "The letter to President Dmitri A. Medvedev was hand-delivered in Moscow by top administration officials three weeks ago. It said the United States would not need to proceed with the interceptor system, which has been vehemently opposed by Russia since it was proposed by the Bush administration, if Iran halted any efforts to build nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles." (Peter Baker, David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, "Obama Suggests U.S. May Rethink Antimissile Plan," The New York Times , 3/3/09)

The Associated Press's Mike Eckel In September 2009: "The Kremlin Got Exactly What It Wanted When The United States Scrapped Plans For Missile Defenses On Russia's Borders." "The Kremlin got exactly what it wanted when the United States scrapped plans for missile defenses on Russia's borders. And Moscow wasted no time in trying to show, at least publicly, that it has ceded nothing in return and, in fact, intends to press for more from Washington." (Mike Eckel, "Analysis: Advantage To Russia In US Missile Move," The Associated Press , 9/19/09)

  • Eckel: "Moscow Wasted No Time In Trying To Show, At Least Publicly, That It Has Ceded Nothing In Return…" "And Moscow wasted no time in trying to show, at least publicly, that it has ceded nothing in return and, in fact, intends to press for more from Washington. Iran and its nuclear intentions loomed over Thursday's decision by the Obama administration to abandon the idea of placing a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Lurking not far under the surface were deeper issues such as the fate of Washington's staunchest allies in the former Soviet bloc and their fears of their massive eastern neighbor." (Mike Eckel, "Analysis: Advantage To Russia In US Missile Move," The Associated Press , 9/19/09)

The Obama Administration "Did Everything They Could Do To Stop The Magnitsky Act" Which Sanctioned Russia For Human Rights Violations

Sergei Magnitsky Was An Auditor At A Moscow Law Firm Who, After Uncovering And Reporting Massive Fraud By Russian Tax Officials, Was Detained And Died In Custody. "Mr. Magnitsky was an auditor at a Moscow law firm when he discovered what he said was a massive fraud by Russian tax officials and police officers. He uncovered the alleged theft of $230m (£150m). After reporting it to the authorities, he was himself detained in 2008 on suspicion of aiding tax evasion, and died in custody on 16 November 2009 at the age of 37." ("Q&A: The Magnitsky Affair," BBC News, 7/11/13)

  • In 2009, Magnitsky Was Tortured And Murdered While In Detention In Moscow. "Magnitsky was then tortured and murdered in pretrial detention in Moscow in 2009.." (Michael Weiss, "Moscow's Long, Corrupt Money Trail," The Daily Beast , 3/22/14)

In 2010, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) Introduced The Human Rights Sanctions Bill Championed By The Owner Of Magnitsky's Firm, Bill Browder. "But in 2010, when Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin introduced the bill that Browder championed, the Obama administration balked. Magnitsky, an auditor with law firm Firestone Duncan, had worked for Browder's firm, Hermitage Capital Management. He was imprisoned in 2008 after alleging that top Russian officials had effectively stolen $230 million from the government. Magnitsky died in prison in 2009 at age 37 after becoming ill and being denied medical care. Russian officials said he suffered a fatal heart attack, though they provided no evidence to support that contention." (Jamila Trindle, "The Magnitsky Flip-Flop," Foreign Policy , 5/15/14)

As Cardin's Bill Gained Steam In 2011, Administration Officials, Including Several From Obama's State Department, Treasury Department, And National Security Council "Fanned Out Across Capitol Hill To Lobby Against The Bill." "The bill began gaining steam in 2011, just as the administration was focused on normalizing trade relations with Russia ahead of its scheduled entrance into the World Trade Organization the following year. Officials from the State Department, Treasury Department, and President Barack Obama's National Security Council fanned out across Capitol Hill to lobby against the bill and argue that the administration already had enough power to impose sanctions on Russia." (Jamila Trindle, "The Magnitsky Flip-Flop," Foreign Policy , 5/15/14)

Browder: "The [Obama] Administration, Starting With Hillary Clinton And Then John Kerry, Did Everything They Could Do To Stop The Magnitsky Act." "'The administration, starting with Hillary Clinton and then John Kerry, did everything they could do to stop the Magnitsky act,' Browder said in an interview." (Jamila Trindle, "The Magnitsky Flip-Flop," Foreign Policy , 5/15/14)

"The Administration Tried To Stop The Magnitsky Act - In Its Tracks For Fears That It Would Derail Its Efforts To "Reset" Relations With Moscow." "Two years ago, by contrast, the administration tried to stop the Magnitsky Act - named after the dead lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky - in its tracks for fears that it would derail its efforts to 'reset' relations with Moscow." (Jamila Trindle, "The Magnitsky Flip-Flop," Foreign Policy , 5/15/14)

Politico : "Despite Administration Protestations, Congress Passed The Magnitsky Act And Obama Reluctantly Signed It Into Law." (James Kirchick, "Why It's Hard To Take Democrats Seriously On Russia," Politico , 7/24/17)

The Obama Administration Waited Years Before Raising Concerns Over Russia's Violations Of The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

While The State Department Realized In 2011 That Russia Likely Violated A Missile Testing Agreement, It Was Not Until 2013 That The State Department's "Senior Arms Control Official, First Raised The Possibility Of A Violation" With Russia. "Russia first began testing the cruise missiles as early as 2008, according to American officials, and the Obama administration concluded by the end of 2011 that they were a compliance concern. In May 2013, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department's senior arms control official, first raised the possibility of a violation with Russian officials." (Michael R. Gordon, "U.S. Says Russia Tested Cruise Missile, Violating Treaty," The New York Times , 7/28/14)

A 2014 State Department Report Stated That Russia Had Violated The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. "The United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles." ("Adherence To And Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, And Disarmament Agreements And Commitments," U.S. State Dept. Bureau Of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance , 7/2014, pg. 9)

  • The State Department Reported That The U.S. Had Raised Concerns With Russia In 2013. "In 2013, the United States raised these concerns with the Russian Federation on repeated occasions in an effort to resolve U.S. concerns. The United States will continue to pursue resolution of U.S. concerns with Russia." ("Adherence To And Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, And Disarmament Agreements And Commitments," U.S. State Dept. Bureau Of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance , 7/2014, pg. 10)

In 2014, The Obama Administration Acquiesced To Russian Demands Concerning The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)

The New START Treaty Required The US And Russia To Reduce Their Deployed Nuclear Forces. " New START provides the parties with 7 years to reduce their forces, and will remain in force for a total of 10 years. It limits each side to no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. Within that total, each side can retain no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber." (Amy Woolf, "The New START Treaty: Central Limits And Key Provisions," Congressional Research Service , pg. 2, 8/27/14)

On The U.S. Ambassador To Russia's Website, The U.S. Announced That The New START Treaty "Will Mention A Link Between Offensive Nuclear Arms And Defenses Against Them." "The United States and Russia have agreed that a new arms control treaty will mention a link between offensive nuclear arms and defenses against them, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow said Thursday, signaling a possible breakthrough in arms reduction talks. Russian foreign policy experts said Ambassador John Beyrle's statement in his blog post could mean that U.S.-Russian talks will soon produce a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START." (Douglas Birch and Vladimir Isachenkov, "US Ambassador: Arms Deal To Mention Missile Shield," The Associated Press , 2/11/10)

The Low-Profile Announcement Came After "Washington Had Resisted Russia's Push For Language In The START Successor Treaty Explicitly Connecting Them." "President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev linked the two issues in a statement in July, but Washington had resisted Russia's push for language in the START successor treaty explicitly connecting them." (Douglas Birch and Vladimir Isachenkov, "US Ambassador: Arms Deal To Mention Missile Shield," The Associated Press , 2/11/10)

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FAILED TO RESPOND TO OR CHECK RUSSIAN AGGRESSION IN EASTERN EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA

In 2009, U.S. Officials Suspected Russia Was Behind Kyrgyzstan's Order To Evict U.S. Troops From An Air Base Critical To U.S. Military Operations In Afghanistan

In February 2009, Kyrgyzstan Ordered U.S. Troops Out Of An Air Base Important To U.S. Military Options In Afghanistan. "Kyrgyzstan ordered U.S. forces on Friday to depart within six months from an air base key to military operations in Afghanistan, complicating plans to send more troops to battle rising Taliban and al-Qaida violence." (Leila Saralayeva, "Kyrgyz Issues Eviction Notice To US," The Associated Press , 2/20/09)

"Shortly After Russia Said It Would Give $2.15 Billion In Aid And Loans" To Kyrgyzstan, The Country's President Announced The Closure Of The US Base And Complained About The U.S. "Was Not Paying Enough Rent For The Base." "Kyrgyzstan's president complained when announcing the closure this month that the United States was not paying enough rent for the base. The announcement came shortly after Russia said it would give $2.15 billion in aid and loans to the impoverished Central Asian nation. (Leila Saralayeva, "Kyrgyz Issues Eviction Notice To US," The Associated Press , 2/20/09)

U.S. Officials Suspected Russia Was Behind The Decision To "Shut The Americans Out." "U.S. officials suspect that Russia, long wary of U.S. presence in ex-Soviet Central Asia, is behind the decision to shut the Americans out." (Leila Saralayeva, "Kyrgyz Issues Eviction Notice To US," The Associated Press , 2/20/09)

Over The Course Of The Obama Administration, Russia Effectively Integrated Its Illegally Occupied Territories Within The Republic Of Georgia

Prior To The Obama Administration, Russia Invaded Georgia And Seized Control Of The Georgian Territories Of South Ossetia And Abkhazia. "Moscow has essentially controlled South Ossetia and the neighboring breakaway territory of Abkhazia since it defeated Georgia's army there in a brief war in 2008. Russia recognized the impoverished territories as independent states and handed their governments millions in subsidies, but stopped short of full annexation. Only a handful of countries have recognized South Ossetia, a tiny region of some 50,000 people." (Olga Razumovskaya, "Russia Tightens Control Over Breakaway Georgian Region Of South Ossetia," The Wall Street Journal , 3/18/15)

During A 2008 Presidential Debate, Obama Said Russia's Invasion Of Georgia Was Unacceptable And Russia Must Remove Itself From South Ossetia And Abkhazia. SENATOR OBAMA: "Well, I think that, given what's happened over the last several weeks and months, our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region. Their actions in Georgia were unacceptable. They were unwarranted. And at this point, it is absolutely critical for the next president to make clear that we have to follow through on our six-party -- or the six-point cease-fire. They have to remove themselves from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It is absolutely important that we have a unified alliance and that we explain to the Russians that you cannot be a 21st-century superpower, or power, and act like a 20th-century dictatorship." (Transcript, First Presidential Debate , Oxford, Mississippi, 9/26/08)

"After The War In Georgia, Russia Had Also Been Threatened With Isolation, But Everything Had Soon Been Forgotten." (Mikhail Zygar, "The Russian Reset That Never Was," Foreign Policy , 2/21/18)

Russia Withdrew Some Forces "To Prewar Boundaries," But Still Held "Large Areas That Had Irrefutably Been Under Georgian Control." "In the weeks after open hostilities ended, Russia did withdraw many armored and infantry units to prewar boundaries, including units posted along Georgia's main highway and or near Georgia's military bases. … But even though European monitors have long been on the ground, Russia still holds large areas that had irrefutably been under Georgian control, and thousands of Georgians have not been allowed free access to homes far from the disputed territory where the war began." (C. J. Chivers and Olesya Vartanyan, "Russia Keeps Some Troops In Georgia, Defying Deal," The New York Times , 4/3/09)

On March 18, 2015, Russia Signed An Agreement With The Georgian Separatist Region Of South Ossetia Establishing "Almost Full Integration" With Russia. "Russia signed a treaty with the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia on Wednesday that seals almost full integration, raising pressure on an ex-Soviet neighbor that has sought closer ties with the West." (Olga Razumovskaya, "Russia Tightens Control Over Breakaway Georgian Region Of South Ossetia," The Wall Street Journal , 3/18/15)


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