Hillary Clinton stands by 'Russian reset' in face of recent events
July 24th, 2014
12:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Hillary Clinton stands by 'Russian reset' in face of recent events

Washington (CNN) – It worked.

That is the argument former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made during a Thursday interview about her much talked about 2009 reset of U.S.-Russia relations.

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The statement comes as Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, has distanced itself from the United States, and the country is widely seen by U.S. and European analysts as linked to the downing of a passenger airliner earlier this month in Ukraine.

"What I think I demonstrate in the book, is that the reset worked," Clinton told guest host John Harwood on NPR's “On Point” on Thursday during a conversation about her new memoir, "Hard Choices." "It was an effort to try to obtain Russian cooperation on some key objectives while (Dmitry) Medvedev was president."

Clinton later said the reset "succeeded" and was meant to be "a device to try to refocus attention on the transactional efforts that we needed to get done with the Russians."

The former secretary of state – and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 – said the signing of the 2009 New START treaty, the increased sanctions on Iran and the securing of supply lines to American troops in Afghanistan were all successes that came from the reset.

But hindsight has not favored Clinton.

Russia has stepped up its aggressiveness on the world stage and the country's relations with the United States have suffered. The front cover of the latest issue of TIME Magazine even declares "Cold War II: The West is losing Putin's dangerous game."

Hillary Clinton: It’s up to Putin whether there’s 'another Cold War'

Putin now finds himself at the center of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 investigation. U.S. officials believe the plane was shot down over an area of eastern Ukraine that is now in control of Russian-backed separatists. The crash killed all 298 people on board, causing U.S. and European officials to step up rhetoric against Russia, with some blaming Putin directly for the deaths.

Putin has not taken responsibility for the downing, but in a written statement said, "no one should and no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political goals. Rather than dividing us, tragedies of this sort should bring people together."

The downing and the backing of separatists in Ukraine come after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine earlier this year. The move riled the international community and caused the United States and Europe to sanction important economic sectors of the country.

Clinton argued during the interview that when Putin retook the Russian presidency in 2012 she recognized the need to treat the country differently.

"When Putin announced in the fall of 2011 that he was coming back, I had no illusions," Clinton said. "I wrote a memo to the President, in fact I wrote two memos to the President, pointing out that we were going to have to change our thinking and approach. We had gotten all we could get from the reset."

Clinton's dealings with Russia have also turned political. Republicans have seized on Clinton's reset in light of recent events and the Republican National Committee has made the reset a hallmark of most of their sweeping attacks on Clinton. The group has argued "as relations with Russia continue to deteriorate, Clinton may need to reset her own Russian legacy."

Clinton compares Putin's Ukraine moves to Hitler, later recalibrates

During the interview with Harwood, Clinton acknowledged the number of foreign policy crises around the world but appeared to distance herself from decisions the Obama administration has made since she left in 2013.

"Every administration, every party in the White House has the responsibility during the time it is there to do the best we can to lead and manage the many problems we face," Clinton said when asked if the Obama administration is to blame for a number of issues around the world. "And I think we did in the first term."

On the topic of another international hotspot, Clinton strongly sided with Israel in the country's conflict with Hamas and the Gaza Strip.

Clinton said that she has "no doubt" that the current conflict "was a deliberate provocation" by Hamas to "engender more sympathy for their cause and also to put Israel on the back heal."

"I think the responsibility falls on Hamas," Clinton said.

Clinton did say, however, that she supports Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to secure a ceasefire in the region and hopes the agreement will bring an end to the fighting.

Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Russia
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. sonny chapman

    Octoslash- you've given your opinion on what you think of the prospect of Hillary as POTUS; what is your opinion of George W. Bush's actually serving as POTUS ?

    July 24, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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