Russia-USA relations: Putin's ultimatum to the next U.S. President - Bloomberg

12:55 Oct. 5, 2016

Putin's ultimatum to the next U.S. President - Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryov residence outside Moscow, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 (AP Photo)

Leonid Bershydsky on deterioration of Russia-USA relations and its impact on the next US presidency

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 any of the future U.S. presidents on 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 countersanctions";
  • 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."

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