Obama, Medvedev cite strong start in 'resetting' relations
From arms control to Afghanistan, analysts say the deals brokered by Obama and Medvedev could profoundly reshape global security.
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That seems the initial reaction of Russian experts to the raft of agreements that emerged, along with a smiling Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, from four hours of intensive talks in the Kremlin that covered everything from nuclear arms control to US meat imports to Russia.
"Yes, our relationship really has been 'reset' and put back on track," says Stanislav Belkovsky, president of the independent Institute of National Strategy in Moscow. "Both sides clearly wanted this to happen, and it was time."
Two deals inked Monday, on nuclear arms control and Afghanistan, hold out the potential to reshape the sometimes troubled US-Russia strategic relationship in ways that could reverberate positively through the larger problems of global security, Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev said in the Kremlin press conference.
"The US and Russia have responsibilities in almost everything that's happening on the planet," Medvedev said. "We have decided that the current level of our relations does not correspond to reality, or to what is needed to match the requirements of the 21st century."
Obama agreed that the relationship has "suffered from a sense of drift" in recent years, and added that "we are committed to set aside the suspicions and rivalry of the past" and work together on key global issues such as Middle East peace, designing a new nuclear nonproliferation regime for the world, and countering violent extremism.
As expected, the two agreed to finalize by year's end a fresh strategic arms control accord, to replace the soon-to-expire 1991 START treaty. The new proposal could slash offensive nuclear arsenals on both sides by at least one-third, to around 1,500 warheads deployed on somewhere between 500 and 1,100 delivery vehicles.
"Here, we are leading by example," said Obama.
Missile shield still up in the air
But beyond expectations was the suggestion, added by Obama, that longstanding and acrimonious differences over Washington's plans to build a globe-girdling antimissile shield – including deployments in Eastern Europe – might be worked out through compromise.
"For the first time ever, an American president has said that the opposing positions between Moscow and Washington on missile defense can be reconciled," says Yevgeny Bazhanov, vice rector of the official Diplomatic Academy in Moscow, which trains Russian diplomats.
Obama also seemed to agree with Russia's insistence that efforts to reduce offensive nuclear weapons must be coupled with moves toward controlling any spread of defensive weapons, as was done at the outset of cold war-era arms control.