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25 Nov, 2020 17:35

‘Not the worst option’: Russian officials relieved Biden chose 'sane' Blinken over 'possessed' Rice for sec of state – reports

‘Not the worst option’: Russian officials relieved Biden chose 'sane' Blinken over 'possessed' Rice for sec of state – reports

With Antony Blinken nominated as presumed President-elect Joe Biden's secretary of state, many are wondering how the US-Russia relationship will change. According to some commentators, Blinken may not be that bad for the Kremlin.

After four years of ever-increasing sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration, Biden has repeatedly pledged to “impose real costs” on Moscow, and there is no sign of detente between the two nations. However, according to officials speaking to Moscow daily Kommersant, Biden's selection of Blinken is much more favorable to the Kremlin than some of the other possible candidates, including the former ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.

Born in New York to a Jewish family with roots in the Russian Empire, Blinken worked alongside Biden and then-President Barack Obama on policy towards Moscow. In 2014, following Crimea's reabsorption into Russia, he was one of the architects of the resulting sanctions.

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However, despite his stance at the time, Blinken is considered to be “sane” by Moscow, as opposed to Rice, who an official called “possessed.”

In particular, one official noted Blinken will have “a negotiating mandate” and “direct access to the president,” in contrast to representatives of the Trump administration, who did not always reflect the position of the leader.

“Given that, in any case, we will have to interact on a few topics where the interests of the two countries coincide, this is not the worst option,” said another.

Speaking to another Russian newspaper, RBC, Maxim Suchkov, associate professor at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), explained Blinken has admitted to making errors as part of the Obama administration. Therefore, Suchkov believes the future secretary of state will consider his appointment “an opportunity to rehabilitate mistakes made.”

Writing an op-ed for Echo of Moscow, Mikhail Bobryshev explained Blinken has long supported anti-Russian sanctions, and is opposed to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Bobryshev is a member of the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“He has no understanding of how to motivate Russia to make peace in Eastern Ukraine,” Bobryshev wrote. “Sanctions have not made Russia more compliant in terms of implementing the Minsk agreements.”

Either way, the United States will not lift sanctions until the conflict in Donbass is resolved, Bobryshev believes.

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