Reports that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Navalny released from hospital after suspected poisoning Ex-Trump national security adviser says US leaders 'making it easy for Putin' to meddle MORE is potentially going to seek the position of Prime Minister in the Russian parliamentary elections in December should be viewed with measured speculation. As President, Putin has maintained strong control over the government, and there is little reason to believe that he would want to relinquish his influence even has he steps down from the presidency. However, the Russian people have the final say in the individuals they wish to lead their government, and as members of the international community, we should respect their decision.

Our two nations have had a sustained, though at times strained, relationship during President Putin’s tenure. There are several issues that remain unresolved due to differing interests, but we should remain dedicated to building a prosperous and strategic relationship. As a frequent visitor to Russia, I have a great appreciation for the Russian people and their culture. I am hopeful for a brighter future for Russia with needed economic and political reforms