The reaction of the U.S. elites to the election of Dmitry Medvedev as the next president of Russia reflects first and foremost the generally negative way in which contemporary Russia is perceived in the United States. Alexey Pushkov is certainly correct in pointing out that by criticizing the election, the U.S. foreign-policy establishment is trying to "punish" Russia for its independent position on a range of issues, including Iran, NATO enlargement, and Kosovo.
Attempts to paint Medvedev as nothing more than Putin’s puppet betray the desire on the part of U.S. policy-makers to isolate him internationally and, by doing so, to weaken Russia’s position in the world.
This is unlikely to happen, and here is why.
Medvedev will be inaugurated on May 7. President Bush, already a true lame duck, will be even more irrelevant by then. Medvedev will have absolutely no reason to waste his time on forging a meaningful relationship with an outgoing American president.
Instead, Medvedev will turn his attention to Europe. There, doors are already being opened. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosa has congratulated Medvedev and said he was looking forward to working with him. French president Nicolas Sarkozy went one step further and invited Medvedev to France. Even the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, wrote Medvedev a letter.
By the time a new inhabitant is sworn into the Oval Office, Medvedev will have spent 9 months establishing working relationships with his European counterparts and facilitating deals between Russian and European companies. Far from marginalizing Medvedev, the next American president may well find him- or herself as standing last in line to peek into Medvedev’s soul.