Clinton’s ‘Moscow Spring’ ended as Putin returned to power

From The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton basked in a diplomatic “Moscow Spring,” seizing on Vladimir Putin’s break from the presidency to help seal a nuclear arms-control treaty and secure Russia’s acquiescence to a NATO-led military intervention in Libya. When Putin returned to the top job, things changed.

Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, has vowed to stand up to Putin if elected, drawing on her four years of ups and downs as the public face of President Barack Obama’s first-term “reset” with Russia. By comparison, her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has rung alarm bells in Washington and Europe with his overtures to the authoritarian Russian leader.

But Clinton’s wrangles with Russia led to mixed results. Her fortunes dipped dramatically after Putin replaced Dmitry Medvedev as president in May 2012.

Just weeks later, Russia outmaneuvered her in negotiations over a complicated Syria peace plan, dealing her what was arguably her worst diplomatic defeat. While Clinton hailed it as a triumph, the war only escalated. And while her aides still insist she came out on top, the blueprint effectively gave Syria’s Moscow-backed president, Bashar Assad, a veto over any transition government, hampering all mediation efforts still.

“There is no doubt that when Putin came back in and said he was going to be president, that did change the relationship,” Clinton said in a Democratic debate last year. “We have to stand up to his bullying and specifically, in Syria it is important.”

Clinton’s history with Russia is significant given the surprising role Russia has played in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Clinton and her supporters say she would be far tougher on Moscow than Trump, whose …

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