Russian reset

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Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov with the "reset" button Clinton presented to Lavrov in March, 2009

The Russian reset was an attempt of Obama administration to improve relations between the United States and Russia in 2009.

Symbolic reset

On 6 March 2009 in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Sergei Lavrov with a red button with the Russian text "перегрузка". It was intended that this would be the Russian word for "reset". Clinton explained that she wanted to reset relations between Russia and the United States. However, Lavrov explained to Clinton that "перегрузка" actually means "overcharge". The two pressed the button anyway. Clinton explained that the American side meant it; they wanted a new era of better ties.[1][2]

Substantive reset

Prior to the reset, US-Russia relations had been hurt by the 2008 Russo-Georgian diplomatic crisis in Ossetia and the Russo-Georgian War, leading to Immediate Response 2008 by the Bush Administration.

In July 2009, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev announced that U.S. forces supplies could pass through Russian airspace on their way to Afghanistan. On 17 September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. was dropping the Bush Administration's plan to build a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. Russia had viewed the planned missile shield as a military threat. Vladimir Putin said the decision was "correct and brave". In March, 2010, the U.S. and Russia agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals.[3]

In May 2010, major powers including the U.S., China and Russia agreed on sanctions against Iran. Three days later, the Obama Administration cancelled sanctions against the Russian state arms export agency, which had been sanctioned for exporting arms to Iran.[4][5]

Subsequent deterioration of relations

As early as the March 2014 censure of Russia by the United Nations over the Russian annexation of Crimea, the reset was described in the press as "failed". Stated reasons included the Russian annexation of Crimea, the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, and lack of Russian cooperation with the U.S. on Syria. Former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Adam Rotfeld stated that the reset showed "weakness". Jeb Bush also called the reset a failure, stating that Russia had "invaded Ukraine", which Russia had not done prior to the reset. He said that Putin was a "bully" and that "nuanced" behavior by the U.S. towards Putin tended to "enable bad behavior." Russia denied that it had sent troops into Ukraine. However, Hillary Clinton defended the reset as a "brilliant stroke", pointing to the Russian agreement to sanctions against Iran and permission to send troops to Afghanistan.[6][7][8][9]

In October 2014, Medvedev said that a reset of relations with the U.S. was "impossible", and that relations had been damaged by "destructive" and "stupid" Western sanctions against Russia. The sanctions had been imposed because of the Ukraine crisis and the shooting down of flight MH17, which Western powers said was the result of a missile fired from rebel-controlled territory.[10]

In April 2016, two Russian jets flew over the US destroyer USS Donald Cook almost a dozen times, American officials said. At one point the jets were so close - about 9m (30ft) - that they created wakes in the water around the ship. The jets had no visible weaponry and the ship took no action.[11]


  1. "Misspelled 'Reset' Button Embarrasses Clinton".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Shuster, Simon. "U.S.-Russia Relations: In Need of a New Reset". Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Baker, Peter; Ellen Barry (2010-03-24). "Russia and U.S. Report Breakthrough on Arms". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Peter Baker and David E. Sanger. "U.S. Makes Concessions to Russia for Iran Sanctions". Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. David E. Sanger and Mark Landler. "Major Powers Have Deal on Sanctions for Iran". Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Mehta, Seema. "". Retrieved 27 June 2015. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Taylor, Adam. "The failure of the U.S.-Russia reset in 9 photos". Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Shuster, Simon. "A Failed Russia 'Reset' Haunts Obama in Europe". Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Clinton: Russian Reset 'Brilliant Stroke'". Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Russia-US relations reset 'impossible': PM Medvedev". Retrieved 28 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Russia denies breaking rules over low pass of US destroyer". Retrieved 14 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>