- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The U.S. ambassador to Russia insists that Washington and Moscow are actually quite close, despite the news media’s focus on their bitter disputes.

“If you only listened to some of the loudest rhetoric on U.S.-Russian relations, you might get the impression that Americans and Russians only argue and never work together,” Ambassador Michael McFaul wrote on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

“Yet, these instances of differences between us seem to get the bulk of the attention, while the quiet, everyday — yet vitally important — spheres of cooperation go unnoticed.”

Mr. McFaul listed 28 areas of U.S.-Russian teamwork. He posted one on his Twitter account every day in February — the shortest month of the year.

However, no sooner had he concluded his list of good deeds than 12,000 angry Russians were marching in the streets of Moscow and denouncing the United States over the death of a 3-year-old Russian boy adopted by a couple in Texas.

The embassy issued a statement of condolences to the Russian people March 1, after Texas authorities ruled that the death of Max Shatto was accidental.

“We share in that sadness at the loss of this promising young life,” the embassy said.

Max, born Maksim Kuzmin, died Jan. 21 shortly after Russia imposed a contentious ban on Americans adopting Russian children. The ban followed U.S. sanctions on Russians suspected of killing anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also has stoked anti-American hysteria, even accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of inciting opposition demonstrations. Mrs. Clinton had dramatically presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a red, plastic “reset” button in 2009 to symbolize a new era of bilateral ties under President Obama.

Leon Aron, a Russia specialist at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, now sees little to celebrate in U.S.-Russian relations.

“The White House is trying to revive the ‘reset’ with Russia,” he wrote Tuesday in The Los Angeles Times. “It is likely to be a wasted effort.”


Venezuela accused a U.S. Embassy official Tuesday of spying and ordered him to leave the country within 24 hours, escalating four years of diplomatic discord between Washington and the anti-American regime of President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro claimed that Air Force attache David Del Monaco held unauthorized contacts with Venezuelan military officials and was plotting “destabilization projects.”

The United States denied Mr. Del Monaco was involved in espionage.

The diplomatic dispute erupted in 2008, when Mr. Chavez expelled U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy and withdrew Venezuelan Ambassador Bernado Alvarez.

Mr. Chavez repaired relations with the United States after President Obama took office in 2009. But the reconciliation was short-lived.

In 2010, Mr. Chavez rejected Mr. Obama’s choice of career diplomat Larry Palmer to replace Mr. Duddy. Mr. Palmer had told a Senate committee about low morale in the Venezuelan military and Mr. Chavez’s support for Marxist rebels in Colombia.

Washington retaliated by revoking Mr. Alvarez’s visa, effectively expelling him.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.



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