The Impact of the Midterm Elections on the US-Russian Relations

After the midterm elections results were first announced, some Russian and American experts rushed to make public statements that the Republican gain of majority in the House of Representatives could have a negative impact on the Obama administration's policy of "resetting" relations with Russia. It seems that this conclusion may be not only premature, but also erroneous.

First of all, practically speaking, it is necessary to note that, during the 2010 election campaign, foreign policy issues were on the far periphery of both politicians' and voters' attention. Thus, the Republicans owe their success first and foremost to the fact that the Obama administration failed to present significant results in fighting unemployment.

Secondly, the Republicans won because they promised voters that they would cut government spending. The budget deficit and total national debt grew at threatening rate and reached critical level. It is evident that the limited financial resources allocated towards foreign policy will be directed mainly towards Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides, the resources will be directed to preserve stability in Pakistan, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, to maintain the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology, and to achieve a range of other goals that the US considers a priority.

Thirdly, an increasing number of American policy experts share the opinion that Russia does not pose a threat to the vital interests of Europe or the USA in the foreseeable future.

Fourth, the reset policy is not a concession to Russia or a charitable act on behalf of the Obama administration. This policy is based on the new realities of the contemporary world and a pragmatic assessment of the limits of the United States' ability to carry out its foreign policy on a unilateral basis.

Fifth, the US is presently facing so many complex internal and external challenges, all of which demand ever-increasing resources and efforts to tackle, that Washington simply doesn't have the luxury of increasing the number of its adversaries and foes abroad unless it's absolutely unavoidable.

The last point is evidenced by the amount of attention US media devoted to a joint Russian-US anti-drug raid in Afghanistan last week, making room for the story even during the last few days of campaigning, and the fact that the commentary on the joint operation was generally positive.

And finally, from all of the above one can conclude that, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats win in the congressional or presidential elections in coming years, Washington will, in my opinion, continue to carry out the reset policy with only slight modifications, because this policy is in line with the US strategic interests for the foreseeable future.