Hillary Clinton, after a grueling campaign season in which her opponent Donald Trump repeatedly cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already made clear in her own way how she’ll probably approach relations with Russia if she’s sworn in to office this January. The relationship, to say the least, wouldn't be too warm.
Clinton, who presented a literal “reset” button to her Russian counterpart while secretary of state in 2009, has reversed her opinion of the country in the years since and has even called into question the legitimacy of elections there. Clinton, like much of the foreign policy establishment in the Democratic Party, has become particularly hawkish when it comes to Russia, according to a report from the New York Times last month.
"We haven’t seen a you-can’t-trust-these-guys tone like this since the days of Ronald Reagan," Stephen Sestanovich, a veteran of President Bill Clinton's State Department, told the New York Times.
U.S. relations with Russia took a turn for the worst following that 2009 overture from Clinton as Russia pursued what the administration of President Barack Obama saw as tactics reviving Cold War tensions.
In that time, Putin’s Russia became increasingly aggressive internationally, annexing Crimea, bombing Syrian civilians, threatening NATO allies in Europe and allegedly hacking into American emails to try and influence this year’s presidential race. Obama's administration has been integral in organizing sanctions for the Russian government and businesses over some of those concerns. Those circumstances, foreign policy experts say, have led to some of the worst relations between the Washington and Russia dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union.
“I don't know what label to use, but this is probably the lowest point we've seen in U.S.-Russian relations since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979,” Brian Katulis, a Clinton campaign adviser and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said last month.
As Election Day in the United States approached, NATO put 300,000 troops on high alert Monday in response to Russian military buildup and spending in the region that appears to pose a threat. And, sometime last month, American and Russian planes reportedly flew dangerously close to one another in Syrian airspace. The planes came within a half a mile of one another, a worrisome event since it isn’t guaranteed that an accidental collision wouldn’t be interpreted as an act of aggression from either country. The likelihood of one of those events has reportedly been increasing in recent weeks.