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In the last months, the diplomatic relation between Russian and the United States has become tense and unstable, mainly because Russia and China vetoed the U.N. intervention on Syria. This really angered the United States, but Vladimir Putin’s recent election to the Russian presidency has not helped to solve the problem and calm things down.
Russia is the U.S.’ 20th largest trading partner in goods. The goods trade between the two countries is reported as $42.9 billion USD in total. U.S. exports to Russia were $8.3 billion dollars. U.S. goods imports from Russia totaled $34.6 billion last year. Compared to China, Russia is a small economic partner to the United States, but a very important one in other areas.
In the 19th century, Russia sold Alaska to the United States. Russia also supported the U.S. during the civil war. In fact, the 19th century was a golden period for U.S.-Russian diplomatic relations. But the 20th century told us a completely different story. It witnessed the worst case scenario in the diplomatic relations between the two countries: the Cold War, which was a mainly political conflict between the Soviet Union, a union of countries in which Russia was the biggest, and the United States. Even though the Cold War was going on, the U.S. and Soviet astronauts went to space together in the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.
The Soviet Union didn’t last forever, ending in 1991. After this, relations between the two countries got better, but, like with every country, there are a lot of aspects in which both governments do not agree. This is completely normal considering both countries come from two totally different backgrounds.
Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency in March, which will definitely affect the good relations that President Obama had with his precursor, Dmitri Medvedev, who was in power from 2008 to 2012. Medvedev even declared once that “these were perhaps the best three years of relations between Russia and the United States over the last decade.”
But now Putin, a former K.G.B officer, is back on the game. The man became President for the first time in 2000 and remained so until 2008 when he gave power to his chosen one, Medvedev. Yet, most analysts agree he never stopped ruling.
The first problems between the U.S. and Russia have already reappeared, and the Syria issue has been the trigger. The State Secretary Hillary Clinton accused Putin in June of shipping attack helicopters to Syria that President al-Assad could use to continue with his massacre of civilians. The Russian government responded that they only have sent weapons that can be used for self-defense.
But the problematic relations between both countries really started in February, when Russia and China vetoed the United Nations’ action on Syria. This action caused fury on the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. ambassador Susan Rice told CNN that “those that have blocked potentially the last effort to resolve this peacefully … will have any future blood spill on their hands.”
But President Obama made an announcement in June to try to calm things down. After a meeting with President Putin, he expressed the tensions can be solved although they have disagreements. Concerning the Syria issue he declared that President Putin agreed that a political process should be created in Syria in order to avoid a civil war.
Image Courtesy of World Economic Forum