With the current presidential election bombarding the news with polls, statements, and debates each and every day, it’s important to recognize that the next president will be responsible for handling future relations between Russia and the United States. President Putin has been a threatening figure since he began reigning over Russia more than 15 years ago. Officially, the Russian Federation is called “democratic,” but is it really structured that way? The lack of a multi-party system isn’t the only thing preventing it from developing democratically. There is also the fact that President Putin has always been in control, even as Prime Minister, keeping it closer to an authoritarian regime. The United States will be responsible for helping not only Ukraine, but also countries surrounding Russia, as well as people in Russia who all want Russia to end it’s destructive progression, as well as increase democratic freedoms.
Putin has always demonstrated his desire to stay in power. One of his first acts as president in his first term of office was advocating strong force in Chechnya. During his second term, he began terminating human rights. Anyone who criticized Putin or the government, including journalists, were arrested, or even killed. Even now in Ukraine, Putin wants to prevent it from developing democratically or economically. By limiting its ties to the EU and NATO, he’s stopped any hope of it developing a better government system and economy. Additionally, he’s threatened many countries who hoped to join NATO in the past, such as Sweden and Finland. Obviously, he doesn’t want anything in the way of his corrupt and authoritarian way of ruling. Moreover, Russia believes the United States is one of its greatest threats. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama failed to find a way to cooperate with Putin. Will the next president be able to?
In an NBC News interview, Putin stated “Our relations are, regretfully, in a pretty frozen state, and I think it’s not our fault,” when asked about the potential presidency of Hillary Clinton. Neither Trump, nor Clinton seem to know how to approach the situation, as it is being nicknamed the “second edition of the Cold War.” Trump made a comment about how Putin is a “strong leader…a powerful leader.” Clinton, on the other hand, has compared him to Hitler, referring to the crisis in Ukraine. No one can turn their back on Putin, and there is only one way to approach the situation, and that is to face him. He has been refusing to follow the United States’s basic requests for human rights, and using his power over countries far beyond Russia. For instance, he has restricted the internet, as well as freedom of speech, and many counties, such as the former Soviet states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, feel more threatened than ever because of the crisis in Ukraine. It is crucial for the next president to come up with a policy that will be in the best interest of the United States, but will still take Russia’s international goals into account. Neither candidate has provided any clear policies on how he/she hopes to approach U.S.-Russia relations. It’s important to know that tensions will remain high, especially this year with the current election, and that the next U.S. president will be a determining factor in the relations between the United States and Russia.