Russia hasn't been much of an issue in the Republican primary, but with Romney as the presumptive nominee, expect it to re-emerge. Romney has described New START, the treaty under which Russia and the United States have agreed to reduce their nuclear stockpiles, as Obama's "worst foreign-policy mistake." He thinks that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is "rebuilding the Russian empire" and that "letting people into WTO who intend to cheat is obviously a mistake." In his official foreign-policy white paper, he promises to "reset President Obama's 'Reset' with Russia," "[f]orthrightly confront the Russian government over its authoritarian practices," and enhance diplomatic and military cooperation with countries in Russia's so-called near abroad.
In March, Putin will almost certainly be returned to Russia's presidency in an election likely to be marred by reports of irregularity and fraud -- a development that will not reflect well on the "reset policy," one of the Obama administration's signature foreign-policy initiatives. The criticism of the president's overtures to Moscow fits in with a larger Republican critique of Obama's abandoning U.S. allies, such as former Soviet satellite Georgia, in the name of engagement with rivals.