When he canceled his scheduled summit in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama effectively terminated his four-year effort to “reset” the bilateral relationship. The meeting of the two presidents at the recent Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg was civil, but did not change the situation. The exchange of rhetorical barbs has continued, despite Russia’s new initiative on Syria’s chemical weapons.

The failure of the “reset” should come as no surprise, owing to its deeply flawed foundations. Indeed, while the immediate cause of Obama’s decision to cancel the Moscow summit was Putin’s grant of temporary asylum to the former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the bilateral relationship has long been faltering. In 2011, after the U.S. and its allies convinced Russia’s former president, Dmitri Medvedev, not to block a United Nations resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, they launched a full-scale military bombardment of Libya, which helped to bring down the regime — a move that Russian officials called “deceptive.”

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