As Congress readies a vote on authorizing the use of force in Syria, lawmakers in both parties and both chambers will be lobbied by all sorts of folks – members of the Obama administration, members of the public, defense contractors, etc.
But don’t be surprised if Russia dispatches some lobbyists of its own.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to send Russian lawmakers to lobby Congress against a strike against Syria. According to a report by the Interfax news agency,
Putin has signaled his support for a proposal made by two Russian lawmakers to send a delegation to Washington.
The initiative, championed by Russian legislators Valentina Matvienko and Sergei Naryshkin, still requires formal approval by the country’s Foreign Ministry – although an informal group of Russian lawmakers may decide to travel on their own.
The meetings between Russians and U.S. lawmakers would be fascinating, wouldn’t they? “Don’t believe your State Department and your CIA; instead put your faith in the Putin government!”
I don’t doubt that there will be plenty of members of Congress who balk at authorizing force in Syria, but I’ll be eager to see just how many of these lawmakers say they were persuaded by a Russian lobbying campaign.
Of course, these won’t be the only unusual U.S.-Russian meetings to take place in the coming days. Max Seddon reported yesterday, “Following his cancellation of a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama may infuriate the Kremlin further by meeting Russian human rights activists, including LGBT rights groups, during his upcoming trip to St Petersburg for the G20 summit. Four Russian non-governmental organizations told BuzzFeed Monday they had been invited to the meeting, scheduled for this Thursday at St. Petersburg’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.”
This would, of course, be the first-ever visit between a U.S. president and members of the Russian LGBT community, and would come against the backdrop of a brutal anti-gay crackdown by the Putin government.
It’s safe to say the bored kid in the back of the classroom will not be pleased with Obama’s outreach.