The United States announced that it was ending official aid work in Russia, the Washington Post reports.
The Post writes:
The United States said Tuesday it is ending the U.S. Agency for International Development’s operations in Russia after a Kremlin demand that the aid organization leave the country, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama’s policy of “resetting” relations between Washington and Moscow.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that Russia sent a letter last week saying it didn’t need Washington’s help anymore. She didn’t cite a political reason for the closure, but President Vladimir Putin has long complained about U.S. democracy and human rights promotion efforts. …
USAID’s ordered departure comes amid a broader crackdown on Russian civil society groups after fraud-tainted parliamentary election last year prompted massive anti-government protests. Putin blamed Washington for trying to destabilize Russia and accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for signaling the start of demonstrations.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland issued this statement:
The United States recently received the Russian government’s decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation. We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID’s programs. While USAID’s physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations.
The Post reported that USAID’s money went toward “fighting AIDS and tuberculosis, helping orphans and victims of trafficking, and improving the protection of wildlife and the environment” while “about a third of annual funds go to governance, human rights and democracy programs.”
In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov symbolically “reset” relations by pressing a red button together.