With Russian ratification of New START, what's next for US-Russia relations?
The New START treaty, which Russia's Federation Council ratified today, is a major step in resetting US-Russia relations, yet many major issues remain.
(Page 2 of 2)
Later that day, President Obama said during his State of the Union message that the deal shows that efforts to halt the proliferation of atomic arms around the world are alive and well. "American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war," he said. "Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START Treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed."Skip to next paragraph
Where does the 'reset' go from here?
But even with the treaty's ratification, there's still much work ahead of any US-Russia relations "reset," which Mr. Obama launched after his inauguration without a central focus.
"With the ratification of START, the agenda has been exhausted," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor in chief of the leading foreign policy journal Russia in Global Affairs. "Now we need to move on to a new stage. But the issues [like arms control] that were clear and easy for both sides to understand have now been dealt with. We might also note that the political situation in both countries has worsened."
Both Russia and the US are likely to be increasingly preoccupied with domestic politics over the coming year. Republicans gained heavily in recent mid-term elections, making it harder for Obama to win Congressional approval for new initiatives. Russia faces Duma elections in December, followed three months later by presidential polls.
Beyond that, experts say, is a list of complicated issues on which the two sides must find common ground if the "reset" is to continue, including cooperation in Afghanistan, curbing Iran's alleged nuclear weapons drive, promoting Middle East peace, and addressing global financial instability.
"Ratification of START opens prospects for the solution of other issues between the US and Russia, and there certainly are a lot of those," says Pyotr Romanov, an expert with the official RIA-Novosti news agency. "It seems like we've overcome one barrier, just to face higher ones ahead of us."