Obama, Barack Hussein


Obama, Barack Hussein
(1961– )
   American politician. Barack Obama possessed little foreign relations experience prior to his election as the 44th president of the United States; however, as U.S. senator, he had traveled to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, focusing on ways to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. His early administration was characterized by attempts to “reset” the relationship with Moscow; however, a number of gaffes, including demeaning comments about Russia made by Vice President Joe Biden, have undermined this strategy. While Obama and Dmitry Medvyedev have a congenial relationship, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made his disdain for the new president obvious. The Russian public proved to be the only foreign audience the charismatic president could not woo in the summer of 2009 when he spoke at the New Economic School in Moscow; commentators suggested that the resurgence of American popularity abroad—itself an outgrowth of Obama’s election in 2008—posed a threat to Russia’s newfound influence in much of the non-Western world. Obama also suffered a setback in Central Asia when Kyrgyzstan demanded that American military forces vacate the country, a position that had been urged by the Kremlin and other Shanghai Cooperation Organization members (ultimately, the U.S. was allowed to maintain a stripped-down presence in the country and received permission to use Russian airspace to assist in its mission in Afghanistan).
   Despite a major change in American foreign policy under Obama, certain disputes, such as that over Georgia and Ukraine’s eventual admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), remain. In September 2009, however, Obama announced his decision not to move ahead with a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, somewhat improving relations with the Kremlin.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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