Monday, July 9, 2018

Obama promised Putin he'd lift trade sanctions against Russia and soft pedaled Magnitsky Act. Hailing Russia Reset and Russia entrance to WTO in Aug. 2012, Mrs. Clinton urged more US trade with Russia-NY Times, 9/8/2012

9/8/2012, “[Mrs.] Clinton Tells Russia That Sanctions Will Soon End, NY Times, b

“VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged Saturday that the United States would soon lift cold-war-era trade sanctions on Russia, but she did not address human rights legislation in Congress that has so far stalled passage, infuriated the Kremlin and become an unexpected issue in the American presidential race. 

Attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting here in place of the campaigning President Obama, Mrs. Clinton welcomed Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization last month. And she said that the United States must now normalize trade relations so that American businesses can reap the benefits of Russia’s membership, including lower tariffs for American products. 

Although the sanctions included in the 1974 law known as Jackson-Vanik are waived each year and have no practical effect, they violate W.T.O. rules, which could allow Russia to retaliate against American businesses. 

The effort to grant Russia normal trade status, however, has become entangled in legislation that would punish Russian officials accused of abusing human rights, denying them visas and freezing their assets. That has raised doubts that any agreement on lifting the Jackson-Vanik provisions can be reached before the November election. 

The human rights bill, which has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison in 2009 after being prosecuted on charges that his supporters argue were manufactured to cover up official corruption. 

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential challenger, injected the issue into the campaign last week by issuing a statement saying that, as president, he would normalize trade with Russia only if the Magnitsky bill were enacted. The Obama administration, by contrast, has opposed the bill as too expansive and lobbied against mixing it with the trade issue, while expressing support for addressing rights abuses in Russia in some way.

The divisions over Russia as an issue in the American campaign came starkly into focus as Mrs. Clinton wrapped up a 10-day, six-nation trip to Asia that overlapped with the national party conventions at home. 

The Romney campaign, in a statement, criticized “the Obama administration’s attempts to scuttle the Magnitsky bill and its overall reluctance to shine a light on human rights abuses in Russia and the Putin government’s backsliding on democratic principles.” 

President Vladimir V. Putin, the host of the conference, weighed in on the American campaign last week in an interview in which he praised Mr. Obama as “a very honest man” and rebuked Mr. Romney for calling Russia “without question the No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the United States. 

Mr. Putin and other Russian officials have vehemently opposed the Magnitsky bill, warning of so-far-unspecified reciprocal measures if it is enacted into law. 

Although Mrs. Clinton did not mention the Magnitsky legislation in public on Saturday, a senior State Department official said she raised the issue of human rights and recent moves by Russia to restrict nongovernmental organizations during a private breakfast of crepes and red caviar with Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov. 

At the news conference that followed, Mrs. Clinton emphasized the accomplishments of what the administration called the “reset” policy toward Russia. 

“During the past three and a half years, the United States and Russia have deepened our cooperation to address shared challenges,” she said, citing the New Start treaty to reduce nuclear weapons and Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. 

The Jackson-Vanik trade barriers were imposed to punish the Soviet Union for its restrictions on the emigration of Jews.

Although the Jackson-Vanik provisions have been waived since the Soviet Union fell apart, their continued existence in American law would allow Russia to maintain higher duties on American products of its own choosing. 

“We hope that the Congress will act on this important piece of legislation this month,” Mrs. Clinton said in her main speech at the economic forum. 

The administration has had tensions with Russia this year over Mr. Putin’s re-election, the protests that followed and the government’s intensifying crackdown on opponents, including three members of the punk band Pussy Riot, who were sentenced to two years in prison for a political protest in a cathedral. The United States has also been upset by Russia’s refusal to support efforts intended to force President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria to try to stop the war there.

None of those issues surfaced publicly here. 

The trade issue was among several topics that Mrs. Clinton discussed with Mr. Putin in a private 15-minute meeting on Saturday evening before they attended a dinner with other leaders.

The senior State Department official said that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Putin also discussed Syria and efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program, as well as plans by the United States for a missile defense system in Europe that Russia opposes. The two then sat next to each other at dinner and chatted throughout the 90-minute meal about wildlife conservation; the Russian Far East; the Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia, in 2014; and other topics, the official said. 

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Lavrov announced modest agreements on noncontentious issues and sought to portray them as examples of what Mr. Lavrov called “constructive cooperation.”

They signed a memorandum of understanding on scientific cooperation and rescue operations in Antarctica and issued two statements encouraging exchanges of regional trade delegations and establishing ties between national parks on either side of the Bering Strait. 

“We are grateful for this and other opportunities to work more closely with Russia on areas of common concern that will deliver benefits to the people of both our nations,” Mrs. Clinton said.

In their brief remarks, neither mentioned the pending human rights legislation in Congress.”

Added: Collusion offered in March 2012 and accepted in Sept. 2012: March 2012: Obama: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to “Vladimir.” Sept. 2012: Putin endorses Obama for US president.….A US presidential candidate believing he was in a private meeting, secretly promised a foreign government that if elected, he’d deliver the foreign government (in this case Russia) results they desire. Fearing that US voters might not re-elect him if they knew his intentions toward Russia, Obama sought to keep his intentions secret. In March 2012 Obama made what he thought was a secret promise to deliver what Putin wanted on missile defense and other issues once he was safely re-elected in Nov. 2012. Accordingly, in Sept. 2012 Putin endorsed Obama for US president. Putin’s endorsement of Obama was broadcast on RT during Sept. 2012’s Asia-Pacific economic conference being held in Russia. Putin specifically mentioned missile defense, saying Obama’s views on that issue were more likely to be favorable to Russia than Romney’s.

9/6/2012, Putin Calls Missile Deal More Likely with Obama,” NY Times, David M. Herszenhorn 

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sauntered into American presidential politics on Thursday, praising President Obama as “a very honest man” and chastising the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney for describing Russia as “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

Mr. Putin was asked about the presidential race during an interview with the state-controlled television network RT. The interview was recorded earlier this week but broadcast on Thursday to coincide with Mr. Putin’s arrival in Vladivostok for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit conference, which is being held in Russia for the first time. 

Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. 

On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true. 

“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama.

“For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk.

And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?” 

Mr. Putin mentioned the American military establishment and the State Department as obstacles to a compromise, and he said he faced similar challengesworking with Russia’s own generals and career diplomats.

With a reminder of Mr. Romney’s remark about Russia, Mr. Putin was asked if he could work with a Romney administration.

“Yes, we can,” he said. We’ll work with whichever president gets elected by the American people. But our effort will only be as efficient as our partners will want it to be.” 

He added a sharp rebuke, accusing Mr. Romney of using inflamed language for political gain.

That criticism might seem curious coming from Mr. Putin. His own campaign for office made use of some pointed anti-American talk, including criticism of the missile plan, claims that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had sent “a signal” to prompt antigovernment demonstrations after a disputed parliamentary election, and accusations that the American ambassador, Michael A. McFaul, was meddling in Russian domestic affairs. 

“As for Mr. Romney’s position, we understand that this is to a certain extent motivated by the election race,” Mr. Putin said in the televised interview. “But I also think that he was obviously wrong, because such behavior on the international arena is the same as using nationalism and segregation as tools of U.S. domestic policy. It has the same effect on the international arena when a politician, a person who aspires to lead a nation, especially a superpower like the U.S., proclaims someone to be an enemy.” 

He then circled back to Russia’s concerns about the missile defense program. “Our American partners keep telling us, ‘This is not directed against you.’ But what happens if Mr. Romney, who believes us to be America’s No. 1 foe, gets elected as presidentof the United States? In that case, the system will definitely be directed against Russia, as its infrastructure looks to be configured exactly for this purpose.

“And you also have to think about its strategic character — it’s built not for a year or even a decade — and the chances that a man with Romney’s views could come to power are quite high. So what are we supposed to do to ensure our security?””

3/26/2012, Obama reaches across the table to press the hand of Russian Pres. Medvedev to emphasize his deep sincerity about helping Putin and screwing Americans after the Nov. 2012 election, Screen shot from UK Telegraph video.


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