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New START fails to alter ‘one-way street’
“What we’re trying to do is work with Russia on Iran and other key issues, but at the same time promote our values, rule of law and democracy in Russia,” said an administration official familiar with the White House view of the Russia reset.
“We think we can do both at the same time. The relationship has matured in such a way that overreaction and linkage across issues is less likely, especially between the two presidents,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch, said if START had been voted down, the effect may have been worse for human rights in Russia.
“I do think a defeat of START under these circumstances would have made it easier for Putin and his faction to make the argument that satisfying U.S. concerns on human rights or anything for that matter was useless,” he said. “That said, the START agreement is not a human rights instrument and it’s not a substitute for a strong public and principled U.S. policy of opposing political repression.”
Recent disclosures of classified U.S. diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks suggest that the Bush and Obama administrations have been less than candid about the decay of freedoms in Russia under Mr. Putin.
A cable dated Dec. 30, 2009, from the U.S. Embassy political counselor in Moscow stated that the trial of Mr. Khodorkovsky showed “the great lengths that the [Russian government] is willing to go in order to place a ‘rule of law’ gloss on a politically motivated trial.”
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