Hillary Clinton stands by 'Russian reset' in face of recent events
July 24th, 2014
12:35 PM ET
7 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. whosiwhatzit

    Reset? No, her little prop button read "Overcharged" in Russian. She couldn't even succeed in getting her prop right, much less advance America's situation with Russia. So Hillary thinks that she succeeded with Medvedev? Was she so clueless as to not realize that Putin was in charge all along? How stupid is Hillary anyway? We saw how she succeeded with Benghazi.....yea it was all about a video.....right...... Want to try that again Hill? Wait a minute....I'll got get your "Overcharged" button....

    July 24, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "We are now, once again, in a cold war footing with the Russians seeking European hegemony and they have more and better nukes."

    If you believe that, you're on bath salts.

    July 24, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    Tommy G's talent for presenting something ( at least for him) that is a self-evident truth is on full display again. Too bad that he still cannot provide any detailed examples that don't descend to the level of attacks. Oh well, maybe he needs a new med.

    July 24, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Silence DoGood

    Conservative Cold War thinking was not going to work with Russia. Reagan almost caused WW3 by bluffing Star Wars. Bush's Europe missile defend was just Star-wars lite. It is not Clinton's fault that Russia decided to be a butt-head and violate treaties.

    I have still not heard the specifics of exactly how conservatives would be "strong" with Russia. It seems like the whole TP / GOP Russia policy plan is to make fun of anything Kerry or Clinton says. Real mature.

    July 24, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. ryche

    Hmmmm, libs suspiciously absent on this board.. could it be you cant defend the indefensible.. im surprised they show up on any of these boards being the dems looking quite incompetent lately... well more then usual i guess..

    July 24, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Wow... Seems like the Pubs here should be thrilled by a possible Hillary run. They're certain that she will get trounced... Perhaps we'll get the opportunity to see...

    July 24, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. johnleehooker

    and yet, she has a very good chance of becoming the next POTUS w/ substantial support among voters...she's crazy, but doesn't seem to matter

    July 24, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Marty

    Well I guess this settles if she had any long term affects from the blood clot issue.

    July 24, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. reason1984

    Ohhh, Hillary.

    She's never been the same since that Bosnian sniper incident.

    July 24, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. toledofan

    So, if this worked so well how come Obama hasn't hit the button himself or have Kerry take it with him and do the reset in Israel? These left wingnuts are just delusional and think that people actrually believe what they say, just amazing.

    July 24, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Kartwitch Mona

    This woman will say or do anything to appear that she did nothing wrong EVER. She's so good at it she even lets Bubba have a new squeeze in her bed, and can't even manage to hide it from the public Nothing changes when you live a total lie of a life. And she represents the democrats that holler republicans have a war on women. Bill Clinton with Hillary's blessing is a war on women all by himself and dems want her to lead the world when she can't even run her own house. She is pathetic and a liar like Obama. But hey, what difference does it make, right?

    July 24, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Mike

    I think we can admit that Bush misjudged Putin. But to use that as an excuse for Obama and Hillary's continued misjudgement of Putin after the evidence was there for all to see that he was consolidating power, rolling back freedoms in Russia, and becoming more aggressive and totalitarian... it says something about their blind partisanship. Obama and Hillary "reset" to be more submissive and accomodating to Putin. Romney was right.

    July 24, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    "I have still not heard the specifics of exactly how conservatives would be "strong" with Russia. It seems like the whole TP / GOP Russia policy plan is to make fun of anything Kerry or Clinton says. Real mature."
    I think I heard a sound bite of John McCain, quite naturally, suggesting that we send in 10,000 boots to assist the Ukrainian army with the separatists. I suppose that the good senator must have forgotten all about that 150,000 man mechanized army that the Russians had assembled on the Ukrainian border in just a day or two, back when all of this was just beginning. They were able to disappear from the border just as quickly when they decided to.

    July 24, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. peter ruggles

    Kerry and to a lesser extent Clinton have not said or done anything meritorious despite their hollow claims. OTOH Bush's 'looking into Putin's eyes' episode was pretty sorry. If you look into his eyes you see nothing. They are devoid of what separates humanity from jungle creatures. He shares with Lenin and Stalin the ruthlessness necessary to run Russia. The differences are of scale; Putin shot down an airplane, and has personally killed people; Stalin killed 30+ million, and Lenin nearly as many in a shorter period of time.

    July 24, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. kobrakai7474

    Don't kid yourself. Putin and his cronies are little more than schoolyard bullies. Russia's conventional military is a shell of the force that existed before the fall of communism. Yes, they have to means to terrorize their immediate neighbors, and, yes, their nuclear arsenal means that, in theory, they could even put a hurting on those further from their borders (including the U.S.). However, they do not have the ability to project their power beyond the range of their current air bases. They have one small aircraft carrier still in service (compared to 10 large ones in the U.S. fleet), and none of the weapons systems have been appreciably upgraded since the end of the Cold War.

    July 24, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. BadKosh

    Delusional. Senility will do that to old fat women with drinking problems.

    July 24, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    The Teatroll Reset: every 5 minutes or so they have to yammer about Benghazi like they hadn't already done so 5 minutes ago.

    July 24, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Hammer

    What was the reset? Return Russia as a supper power (USSR) and turn USA to a third world country status

    July 24, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Swedge70

    Tommy G
    Clearly a person that is incapable of admitting her mistakes and delusional.
    So presumably, you didn't vote for the last president, right?

    July 24, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. elizabethrc

    Good Lord! It's just been disclosed that Hillary is the spawn of Harry Reid!

    July 24, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Tommy G

    The Real Tom Paine
    Tommy G's talent for presenting something ( at least for him) that is a self-evident truth is on full display again. Too bad that he still cannot provide any detailed examples that don't descend to the level of attacks. Oh well, maybe he needs a new med

    Stalking me again today with your content-free, personal attack postings? I am truly flattered as that means my postings are truly nailing the lefties with truth and light.

    Only the brain dead left believes the infamous "Russian Reset" was a success. For Hilary Clinton to get out there and spout this now is doing her tremendous damage to Hillary Clinton's credibility. Democrats are in real trouble if she keeps her foot in mouth disease on full display.

    So in conclusion, you might want to stop drinking the koolaide and face reality. Hillary Clinton is only going DOWN in the polls and the more she talks like this, the faster she will drop. So sorry to burst your Hillary bubble!

    July 24, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. rs

    The most significant "Russian reset" to date seems to be the mess they made in the Ukraine and shooting down a passenger airliner- I thought that was idiotic sorts of stuff that only GW Bush and the neocons could pull off. In any event, Russia's self-inflicted would mean they aren't much to worry about for any time in the near future.

    July 24, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. JJR

    What? In an alternate world or something?

    July 24, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Tony D

    One thing is for certain.... Putin is over their licking his chops over the prospect of having Hillary Clinton in the White House, especially after he has chewed up and spit out the spineless mommy pants Obama over the last few years. The Russian Bear is looking forward to his new chew toy.

    July 24, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. sonny chapman

    Gator Bob-W. was wrong on Bin Laden & we had THE 9-11 Attack. No wonder he stared into oblivion upon hearing of the attack. He was also VERY Wrong on the "threat" posed by Sadaam & how an Invasion & Attempted Occupation was gonna work out.
    On the Domestic Front, Unpaid Tax Cuts that produced NO New Jobs, Deficit Spending to finance TWO Wars(they didn't pay for themselves). A Medicare Drug Program unpaid for.
    IF any of this had happened on Bill Clinton or Barrack Obama's Watch, the Repubs would have had REAL Grounds for Impeachment.

    July 24, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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