US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has had a very rough go of it in his two plus months in Russia. He has attempted to reach out to the opposition and civil society, such as it is, and has been hounded every step of the way. It came to a head yesterday, when McFaul accused Russian television station NTV of having access to his schedule, intimating that NTV had broken into his email and phone. Although the State Department tried to do some damage control, the story has gone viral.
Russian harassment of ambassadors they dislike is not unprecedented. Indeed, no one should be surprised that this is happening, given Putin’s reascension to the presidency, and the paranoia in the ruling siloviki about the opposition.
But note well that this is the regime of the “Vladimir” that Obama wants the “flexibility” to deal with. Further note well that this is Putin’s idea of giving our Barry space.
This puts an exclamation point to last night’s post: has Obama whispered a word about the abuse that is being heaped on the official representative of the US government in Russia? Has he given the faintest indication that this abuse might bode ill for a constructive relationship with Russia? Has it dawned on him that his behavior and policy invite nothing but derision and scorn from someone like Putin? That Putin views Obama’s panting desire to make a deal when he has the flexibility to do so as a sign of weakness? That the provocations directed at McFaul are a test of Obama’s mettle-and that he is failing miserably?
The questions answer themselves.