Obama & Biden playing good cop, bad cop?

Moscow says it’s hard to figure out who is in charge of US foreign policy – President Obama or his advisors – following critical comments against Russia by Vice President Joe Biden.

The Kremlin said it is puzzled by Biden’s strong criticism so shortly after the two countries agreed to reset relations in March and signed crucial agreements during Barack Obama’s visit to Russia two weeks ago. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal after his visit to Ukraine and Georgia, Biden says Russia faces tough economic problems and has a weakened internal policy.

“I think Biden is rhetorically balancing the openings that Obama made in Moscow to the Russian leadership,” said Mikhail Troitsky of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Troitsky added that what the US president told the audience in his highly publicized speech in the Russian New Economic School was amazing, as was showing how respectful he was toward Russia.

“Obama mentioned, for example, one thing that struck me,” Troitsky said. “He said that the hardships the Russian people had to survive through the time of economic reform were not in vain.”

Troitsky noted that Obama’s words contradict those of the many Western leaders who have said recently that Russia is becoming more authoritarian and that democracy is shrinking.

“The vice pesident is showing that if Russia is going to cooperate with the US, ’s not going to be because of the charm offensive, not because Russia is being convinced, but because it’s in Russia’s own interests,” the analyst said.