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Opinion

Why Russia is warming to the West

Stepping out of Putin's shadow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made bold moves recently that tighten ties with Washington. Senate ratification of the new START treaty would give Obama a chance to complete the US-Russian 'reset.'

By Albert L. Weeks / December 15, 2010



Sarasota, Fla.

Shortly after his inauguration in 2008 as Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev was asked by The Financial Times whether he was a Westernizer or a Slavophile. His answer was dodgy: “The world has changed,” he said, “so my first priority is Russia’s interests.”

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Two years later, in defending Russian interests, Mr. Medvedev seems nevertheless to be leaning to the West. Consider these recent Medvedev gambits:

Bold moves

•At the Lisbon NATO-Russian Council meeting last month, President Medvedev made a stunning concession by OKing Russian participation with NATO in developing a pan-European anti-missile shield.

RELATED: Leaked Russian document: Could Medvedev era tilt more pro-West?

Moscow’s policy toward Iran is nowhere near as friendly as it once was. The Medvedev administration appears to be reexamining its erstwhile opposition to UN-enforced sanctions against Iran, thus bringing its policy toward the mullahs in line with that of Europe.

•This past summer, Medvedev personally met outside Moscow with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California. This get-together followed Medvedev’s extraordinary visit to California’s Silicon Valley last June. Reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s wholesale adoption of American production methods under the Five-Year Plans, the Medvedev Kremlin indicated that Russia would follow America’s lead in the information technology field – not China’s.

•It appears likely that Russia will finally be admitted into the World Trade Organization, possibly by next summer. Already, Russia is closing ranks with the Western European countries in the commercial and military fields. There is even talk of Russia joining NATO.

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