Hillary Clinton may have a problem in 2016 when it comes to Russia.
The former Secretary of State, who at this point is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election, is on the defensive over her decision in 2009 to “reset” relations between the United States and Russia.
At the time, Clinton renewed relations with Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev. The agreement led to joint treaties on Iran sanctions and support for American troops in Afghanistan. This week, in an interview with John Harwood on NPR’s On Point, Hillary Clinton said the decision worked.
“What I think I demonstrate in the book, is that the reset worked,” Clinton said. “It was an effort to try to obtain Russian cooperation on some key objectives while (Dmitry) Medvedev was president.”
But the situation has changed drastically after Russian-backed Ukrainian rebels downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 with a surface-to-air missile. President Vladimir Putin has denied responsibility, issuing a statement that said “no one should and no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political goals. Rather than dividing us, tragedies of this sort should bring people together.”
Clinton claimed that when Putin was coming back into power, she shifted the nation’s relations with Russia.
“When Putin announced in the fall of 2011 that he was coming back, I had no illusions,” Clinton said. “I wrote a memo to the President, in fact I wrote two memos to the President, pointing out that we were going to have to change our thinking and approach. We had gotten all we could get from the reset.”
But Republicans are now attacking Hillary Clinton over the decision to reset relations with Russia. The Republican National Committee has turned the decision into a campaign against Clinton, arguing “as relations with Russia continue to deteriorate, Clinton may need to reset her own Russian legacy.”
As the rhetoric with Russia grows more intense, Republicans will likely continue to attack Hillary Clinton and her close ties with the country, which could become a major point against Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.