What’s the difference between the U.S. and Russia? Well, one difference is the U.S. is not a yet a well-recognized
kleptocracy oligarchy. According to former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, Russia has become:
"an oligarchy run by the secret services," and according to unsubstantiated State Department cables, Russia is a virtual "mafia state."
Another difference is the U.S. interest in promoting human rights. And when the administration issues a proclamation “declaring it U.S. policy to bar officials guilty of violating human rights and humanitarian law from entering the United States,” how do the Russians respond? By creating a list of U.S. officials who will be banned from Russia.
Why would the administration feel compelled to issue such a proclamation? To likely “head off legislation known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.” Proclamation? No big deal. Legislation? Bigger deal.
That Russian leadership would feel compelled to create a ‘banned in/enemies of’ list suggests several possible things: a reset on the Russian reset; a newfound lack of respect towards the U.S. the Russians now feel more comfortable placing on parade; a move towards nationalistic Putinism and the creation of an external enemy by Medvedev in anticipation of upcoming elections (and likely power-struggle with Putin).
It’s also suggestive that the good-cop/bad-cop routine employed by the Russians with the U.S. (and NATO) to try and get their way on missile defense is being recognized as a failure. Now, Russian political action is being generated for consumption by an internal audience. If so, this means it’s become a game of who can best defend the Russian honor; that means we can expect the belligerent Russian rhetoric to increase.