Russia deals blow to Obama’s pivot to Asia-Pacific: Expert

Russia deals blow to Obama’s pivot to Asia-Pacific: Expert

Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:35PM GMT

The United States’ “geopolitical rivalry” with Russia presents new challenges to President Barack Obama’s strategy of “pivoting” US resources toward the Asia-Pacific, says a professor at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“The large-scale geopolitical rivalry with Russia in East Europe has dealt a blow to the eastward shift, and considerably eroded national strength,” Zheng Yu writes in an article published by China US Focus.

In recent years, the United States has “considerably downgraded” its assessment of Russia’s strength, the expert says, citing comments by Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, who have dismissed Russia as a weak “regional power” whose economy is in the decline.

Yu argues that if Washington truly believed in its assessment about Moscow, it would not have targeted the Russian economy, using the Ukrainian conflict as a pretext.

“Why should the US kick-start another round of sanctions, aimed at the large-scale geopolitical containment of Russia, and take advantage of its opposition to Ukraine joining the Euro-Asia economic alliance?” the professor asks.

Yu argues that Washington’s “containment” policy toward Russia is based on its “understanding of Russian diplomatic culture and the country’s international position.”

After Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward his roadmap for building a Euro-Asia alliance in October 2011, he explains, Washington viewed it as an effort to restore the Soviet Union.

“This is one of the deeply rooted reasons why the US supported — if not instigated — the Ukrainian parliament’s move to dismiss its pro-Russia president on February 22, 2014, rooting out Ukraine’s possibility of joining the alliance,” Yu writes.

On Thursday, President Obama condemned Russian “aggression” in Ukraine as he welcomed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the White House.

Obama, seated side-by-side with Poroshenko in the Oval Office, censured “Russian aggression, first in Crimea and most recently in portions of eastern Ukraine” and accused Moscow of undermining Kiev’s reform plans.

The US and its Western allies have repeatedly accused Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine by supplying arms to the pro-Russian forces fighting for control of the eastern provinces.

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