The next U.S. administration will inherit the worst relationship with Russia since Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire. Judging from the list of grievances that President Vladimir Putin has laid out, even a relatively Putin-friendly Donald Trump will have a hard time satisfying him.
Putin delivered his message to the future U.S. president Monday, just as the U.S. State Department announced it was suspending negotiations with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria and Russia-backed Syrian troops moved to take more ground in Aleppo. In a bill submitted to parliament, Putin threatened to end a joint U.S.-Russian disarmament program — in which surplus weapons-grade plutonium is processed into fuel — unless the U.S. meets certain conditions:
- Roll back North Atlantic Treaty Organization infrastructure and reduce NATO personnel to September 2000 levels;
- Repeal the Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on Russian officials involved in human rights violations;
- Repeal all U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and businesses;
- Compensate Russians for damages incurred by U.S. sanctions and by Russia’s “forced counter sanctions”;
- Present a “clear plan of irreversible destruction” of U.S. surplus plutonium.
Putin might as well have said the program will resume when hell freezes over. “He asked for too little,” Leonid Volkov, an anti-Putin politician, wrote sarcastically on Facebook. “He should have asked for Alaska back, eternal youth, Elon Musk and a ticket to Disneyland.”
Even if a U.S. administration were suddenly prepared to lift sanctions introduced in response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, not even President Trump would agree to the humiliating and nonsensical demand for compensation — particularly for Russia’s spiteful decision to ban Western food imports, a move that primarily hurt domestic consumers. The NATO cuts, too, are a non-starter.
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The plutonium deal was largely symbolic and on its last legs anyway. It applied to just 34 tons on each side, a small share of each country’s nuclear arsenal. The Obama administration put its side of the program “on cold standby” in 2014, after a series of disagreements over such issues as how to dispose of the plutonium and the high cost of converting it into fuel for nuclear plants. The move indicated that the U.S. was prepared to see Russia abandon its side of the bargain, too.
Putin’s choice of venue appears aimed at reminding the world that Russia remains a nuclear power with plutonium to spare, unlike most countries in its immediate neighborhood. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko bitterly regrets that his country gave up its nuclear arsenal in the mid-1990s in exchange for a now-worthless guarantee from Russia, the U.S. and the U.K. that it wouldn’t be attacked. Poroshenko wants to convince Washington that Ukraine deserves lethal U.S. weapons, having been duped into stripping itself of a powerful deterrent that probably would have kept it intact in 2014.
Putin’s message is that Russia will start acting as an equal, whether or not the U.S. wants to treat it as one. It’s a reminder to the presidential candidates that pacifying Russia will have a price tag, and that Russia’s starting position in any negotiations will be arrogantly high. Since the outgoing U.S. administration is unlikely to step up military activity in Syria, Russia is doing its best to make sure President Bashar al-Assad’s troops win a decisive victory at Aleppo before the next U.S. president is inaugurated. The U.S. decision to withdraw from talks means little to Putin, who has been playing for time rather than talking anyway.
Putin is aware that his belligerent stand will be costly. On Monday, the finance ministry suggested boosting the classified part of the budget — which includes military and security expenditures — by about 680 billion rubles ($10.9 billion), a move that will require cutting other expenditures and increasing the deficit. Putin knows from experience that Russians will put up with more economic hardship if they feel he is standing up to the U.S.
It’s hard to see how Barack Obama can respond seriously to Putin’s demands. The next U.S. president, though, will need to decide what to do with an intransigent Russia. One option is to ratchet up sanctions and wait for a weakening economy to undermine the Kremlin’s position, yet such an approach could have immediate and unpredictable consequences in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Comments on “Putin’s Ultimatum to the Next U.S. President”
Your basic premise in this article is FAULTY AS HELL.
You seem to believe that it was Russian aggression in Ukraine that lead to the place we are at today, with regard to the deterioration in the US -Russian relationship. Are you daft? Seriously. I might recommend you begin reading some of the web information specifically geared toward intelligence people.
The US/CIA/Victoria Newland fomented and began the uprising in Ukraine. It was the CIA that shot peope from rooftops.
You are an absolute idiot and I will never waste my time here again.
Well I was about to tell you what I though, but Gabe beat me to it. Such biased writing is proof that you have literally been living in a cave. Time to get your head out buddy, me thinks you are suffocating and not enough oxygen is getting to your brain.
Great comments, and on the mark. Mr. Putin does not want war., His demands are not unreasonble. We need to pull out of Syria immediately and let Russia finish the job there and restore order. Then Assad can start rebuilding his country.
Russia is a sound economic country. You forget, it has the most resources in the world, and they are off the dollar. Putin kicked the central bankers out of his country. They do not need us or the dollar. They have formed a strong alliance with China, and will very soon begin a new gold backed trading system that will not include the US.
You see China is helping countires with their infrastructure and peacefully creating a new world of commerce, which does not include demolishing countries to rubble and killing of millions of innocent lives.
Change is coming one way or the other, and the future is bleak for this country if we let these current leaders continue on with their warmongering!
You are so off base that you must be some CIA/SOROS shill factory.
NULAND and SOROS planed, funded and executed the ILLEGAL COUP of a polular elected president in Ukraine.
Crimea was already RUSSIA!
Russian culture, Russian heritage, Russian language and this is basically the same for all of Ukraine. Soros and Nuland wanted to FRACK UKRAINE for OIL!
Syria is the exact same “regime change game for OIL”.
This time it is ALL about a GAS PIPELINE from Qatar.
You need to wise up or STFU.
You are dismissed.
The right man and team could fix this nightmare unfolding in a heartbeat with negotiation and FAIR TRUTH and resolve. The current bunch are simply liars with an obvious agenda and hidden within that agenda and perhaps even to some of their greed and arrogant riddle minds, their is a larger agenda that wants us at war for others…. If I have to explain, then that shows even a greater problem.
The man who takes over must have the mind of JFK that spoke words which got him killed along with a logic and shrewdness like Putin to deal with him on equal footing and FAIRLY. Russians don’t play the BULLS#$ game when its obvious. And America has been “squeezed dry” and is ready to dry up and blow away as their most ardant USER and leader of another nation quoted.
The right man for the job must know ALL these things and approach Europe and Russia as well as the rest of the World as SOVEREIGN and realize that our home problems have set us FAR back however they can all be fixed. He may also take a hint from Iceland and issue a mass of arrest warrants for the same bunch Iceland put away while going to a true currency in agreement with Europe and Russia plus the rest of the world i.e. Asia and the Middle East…..
Of course to get most Americans or even Westerners to see without blinders on and programming as well as years of training, well …. good luck.
I fear that a real leader will need to be APPOINTED to the United States Government. One that will tell the special interests as well as the military to take a back seat and truly take command with a team that will FIX things so that EVERYONE is happy except for the War Profiteers, the Usury based Bankers i.e. theInternational Financiers and of course all the “Good Men” are made better by revelation of the hidden deception they have been led to be the scapegoat for.
I see from the comments the Russian trolls are hard at work. I would urge caution lest your war of words with the U.S. Government turns into a real one. But until then keep murdering women and children in Aleppo while you tell the wold everything is our fault and poor innocent Russia is not to blame.
@ Frank…Who are you calling a “troll” specifically.
The USA created, funded and supplied ISIS.
The USA was not INVITED to make WAR in Syria.
Russia WAS INVITED to help defend Syria.
There are no “Syrian Rebels” as Assad was democratically elected and the USA is only involved because the ELITES want a GAS PIPELINE from Qatar through Syria to the Med, while Assad would rather have an IRANIAN PIPELINE instead.
You are the one who reads like a CIA SHILL(troll) or a CNN/FOX news anchor.
Either that or you have been completely brainwashed by the Corpo-Controlled US Media.
You are dismissed,
WHAT OUR DICTATOR BIMBO HAS ALMOST DONE IS PUTTING SO MUCH PRESSER ON PUTIN –IF IT HAD BEEN ANY OTHER LEADER OF PAST HISTORY OD RUSSIA WE WOULD ALREADY HAVE BOMBS FALLING ON US. PUTIN IS HOLDING HIS TEMPER IN CHECK AND THANK GOD FOR THAT. THE ONE PERSON THAT IS VERY MUCH A BULLING IS OUR DICTATOR. THE CAMERA HAS CAUGHT A NUMBER OF EXPRESSIONS THAT SHOULD SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU. HIS REVENGE IS NOT TO BE MESSED WITH. BECAUSE HE WILL BRING THE HAMMER DOWN ON YOU. HE HAS THE HABIT THAT THE CLINTONS DID SICK THE IRS ON YOU.
Nice rant. Now why don’t you get yourself a dictionary so you can at least spell your incoherent words correctly.