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The White House argues that the U.S.-Russian “reset” of relations has had three positive results: the New START nuclear reductions treaty, Moscow’s cooperation in sanctioning Iran, and approval (for a price) for U.S. military goods to transit Russian territory on the way to Afghanistan. But Russia is now using two of those three points as leverage to pressure the administration to get Congress not to pass a bill that would ban visas for Russian officials implicated in human rights crimes.
The legislation, called the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011, is named after the anti-corruption lawyer who was tortured and died in a Russian prison in 2009. The bill targets his captors, as well as any other Russian officials “responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of human rights.”
The administration admitted the Russian threats in its official comments on the bill, obtained by the The Cable.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a classified report late last year that Russia’s military intelligence was responsible for a bomb blast that occurred at an exterior wall of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, in September.
The highly classified report about the Sept. 22 incident was described to The Washington Times by two U.S. officials who have read it. They said the report supports the findings of the Georgian Interior Ministry, which traced the bombing to a Russian military intelligence officer.
The Times reported last week that Shota Utiashvili, director of information and analysis for the Georgian Interior Ministry, said the embassy blast and others in his country were the work of a Russian military intelligence officer named Maj. Yevgeny Borisov.
“It is written without hedges, and it confirms the Georgian account,” said one U.S. official familiar with the U.S. intelligence report.
This official added that it specifically says the Russian military intelligence, or GRU, coordinated the bombings.
Another official who read a three-page summary of the report said it mentions Maj. Borisov once and connects him to the bombings.
As Rogin notes, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes claimed in May that the “reset” had yielded “one of the most productive relationships for the United States.” If the bombing of US embassy (which you’d think that Rhodes would have the clearance to know about) is part of a productive relationship, I wonder what Rhodes would deem unproductive.
Meanwhile, another report from Rogin has Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin calling Republican Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk “radicals” and “monsters of the Cold War,” and claiming the real problem with US-Russia relations is what will happen if Republicans regain the White House. Sure it is.