US hopes for greater Russian cooperation after Putin re-election

By Lynn Berry ,AP

MOSCOW — Now that his return to the Kremlin is secure, Vladimir Putin may tone down the anti-Americanism that was a big part of his presidential campaign, but he seems certain to stand his ground in disputes with the United States. Yet while the bitter division over Syria threatens to bury the “reset” that has been one of the foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration, the future of the relationship is not entirely gloomy. The impending entry of Russia into the World Trade Organization opens the way to greater cooperation through investment and trade. The issues defining U.S.-Russia relations:

Syria Standoff No sooner was Sunday’s election over than the West began pressing for some sign that Russia would soften its position on Syria, hoping that Putin’s protection of Syrian President Bashar Assad had only been necessary to win votes. But Russia immediately made clear that it remained firmly opposed to international intervention. Putin is suspicious of U.S. ambitions in the region, seeing Washington as intent on advancing its own economic interests. Syria is Russia’s last remaining ally in the Middle East and a major customer for Russian arms. Putin also has deep disdain for protest movements in general. Whether in Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, Georgia or Russia itself, he has accused the U.S. of having had a hand in inciting the opposition. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov goes to the United Nations for discussions on Syria on Monday. Don’t look for any significant compromise. Putin won’t accept a replay of what happened in Libya after Russia abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote that gave a green light to the NATO campaign.