Fuelling hopes of a reset in the strained US-Russia relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shunned a tit-for-tat response to the Obama administration’s decision to impose new sanctions and expel 35 Russian diplomats. Mr Putin’s “smart” response has elicited praise from US President-elect Donald Trump, who is expected to ease frosty relations between Moscow and Washington after he takes charge as the leader of the world’s most powerful nation on January 20.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” Mr Trump, known to be an admirer of the Russian leader, said on the microblogging site Twitter on December 30. “I always knew he was very smart!”
Mr Putin’s smart restraint indicates his calculation that the new US President-elect will walk the talk during his campaign speeches about improving the febrile US-Russia relations, leading to an eventual lifting of the onerous US sanctions which have badly mauled the Russian economy.
The improved Russia-US relations bode well for India, which has close strategic relations with both countries. Moscow has reacted with suspicion to what it sees as the growing strategic nexus between New Delhi and Washington. India is betting on better relations between Washington and Moscow as the US sanctions have impacted New Delhi’s efforts to upgrade economic ties with Russia. If the US-Russia thaw becomes real under Trump’s watch, it will be good news for India as it will pave the stage for acceleration of India’s relations with its two foremost partners, US and Russia, without either relationship becoming a zero sum game.