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Reuters: (Wed, July 1, 2009) “Secretary Clinton is not going to go to Moscow,” the official told reporters, saying Clinton would name a State Department official to replace her on the Monday-to-Wednesday trip. The official declined to explain why she would not travel and it was not immediately clear whether it was because of her injury. On Monday, Clinton held a news conference with her arm in a sling and said that the injury was still painful. “I’m engaged in a different form of arms control,” she joked.


Russia will help the U.S. with the transit of military cargoes to Afghanistan (English Translation)


Russia and the United States have agreed to use the air space of Russia for the delivery of American military goods to Afghanistan, told the president of Russia Dmitry Medvedev at a press conference after a meeting with Barack Obama.

More agreements are not known, but Medvedev said, and later all the signed documents will be published and can be found. Barack Obama for his part said that the signed agreement will enable the United States “to reduce the time and resources required to deliver goods to Afghanistan.

As previously reported by Russian media, an agreement on transit every day, through Russia to Afghanistan, will fly to 12 American military transport aircraft. Recall that the goods are non-military United States began to supply through Russia to Afghanistan in March 2009.

As reported by RIA Novosti with reference to the press service of the Kremlin, to the outcome of the meeting of the presidents was also agreed to hold 20 joint military exercises by the end of 2009 and the training of students of Russian military academies in the United States.

In addition, as expected, had signed a framework agreement on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START).


Obama Is Prepared to Call Medvedev’s Bluff

06 July 2009 By Vladimir Frolov

russia_obamaU.S. President Barack Obama descends on Moscow on Monday in the first major encounter between U.S. and Russian leaders since they both agreed to hit the “reset” button.”

Obama’s push to re-engineer the troubled U.S.-Russia relationship has already turned into a policy challenge for the Kremlin. President Dmitry Medvedev’s team is finding the Obama administration increasingly difficult to deal with because unlike former U.S. President George W. Bush, it is prepared to call Russia’s bluff.

While slowly moving to allay some of Russia’s worst fears, Obama is challenging Russia to put its money where its mouth is and prove that it can bring value to the deal.

Obama’s call for a replacement agreement to START I came with a suggestion to drastically reduce nuclear weapons, something that Russia cannot agree to without undermining its security but cannot reject out of hand either. Moscow’s wrenching deliberations on the issue were on full display in Medvedev’s tortured response two weeks ago.

Obama has decided to seriously explore Medvedev’s call for a new security architecture in Europe. When in Moscow, he will prod Medvedev further on the details of his plan, which the Russian side might find it hard to provide.

Washington surprised Moscow last week with an unanticipated offer to immediately reboot the Russian-NATO relationship, which has been frozen since Russia’s war with Georgia. In exchange, the Obama administration wants much more Russian logistical and military support on Afghanistan.

Obama is purposefully bypassing Kiev and Tbilisi on his third European tour in three months, signaling his pragmatic choice of priorities. Change can be enacted by constructing a new relationship with Paris, Berlin and Moscow, not with Warsaw, Kiev or Tbilisi.

Obama’s intention to secure Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization early next year as a prelude to graduating Russia from the infamous Jackson-Vanick amendment was scuttled by Moscow’s decision to apply for WTO membership as a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Obama is challenging Medvedev to prove that he is interested in solving problems and not grandstanding on them. Medvedev wants Obama to show that the United States will listen to what Russia had to say. Both should be careful what they wish for.


President Obama’s Russia trip: What does Russia want?

Posted by The Star-Ledger Editorial Board July 05, 2009 5:04AM

Winston Churchill‘s famous description of the Soviet Union in 1939 — “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” — serves as well 70 years later for the Russia that President Obama will visit beginning today.

For starters, there’s the riddle of who really rules Mother Russia, for how long, and what’s likely to follow? The consensus is that while President Dmitry Medvedev is the public face of the nation, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin actually pulls the strings. But is Medvedev the future? Or will he go when Putin’s done? It’s a mystery. Obama plans to meet both men — separately.

Then there’s the perennial question in the West: What does Russia want? Even the Russians don’t seem to know, as the title of a think tank conference in Moscow last week suggests: “What does Russia think?” The conferees concluded they weren’t sure what Russia thinks. It’s an enigma.

Obama’s task will be to plumb Russian thinking on a host of issues: Iran, energy, missile defense, nuclear proliferation and reducing each country’s nuclear arsenal. Russia’s stand on these subjects will determine whether Washington and Moscow can work together. It’s a goal both favor but one that will require concessions by each that are likely to raise home-front hackles.

Obama wants Moscow on board in pressuring Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. It seems Putin should prefer a non-nuclear Iranian. Russians live in a dangerous neighborhood, cheek-by-jowl with such nuclear powers as China, India and Pakistan. It shouldn’t favor adding Iran to that list.

But it may have other uses for Iran. As former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski writes in London’s Financial Times, “Russia would greatly benefit if a U.S.-Iranian crisis triggered a surge in energy prices.” Russia is the world’s second-largest petroleum producer.

Conflicting Russian and U.S. ambitions in Europe seem certain to come up. They’re at the heart of any potential deal between the two powers.

Russia bitterly opposes the U.S. plan for anti-missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic; it rejects the claim they’re only meant to guard against an Iranian or Islamic terrorist threat.

They’re also anti-Russian, Moscow insists — and, to the extent they stiffen Polish and Czech resolve to resist Russian intimidation, they are indeed. In addition, Putin wants to halt the eastward march of NATO, specifically inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine.

The future of Georgia and Ukraine, two former states of the old Soviet empire, are important to any U.S.-Russia bargain. The Russians already have carved a satellite state out of part of Georgia. The loss of that country to Moscow would sever the West’s access to energy supplies from the Caspian basin and Central Asia — the hoped-for alternative to the monopoly Russia enjoys as Europe’s principal supplier.

In more than one instance, Moscow has used its natural gas wealth as a weapon to force Western Europe to do its will. Moscow’s hankering for a greater role in Ukraine, bread basket of the old Soviet Union, is no secret. Controlling Ukraine, Brzezinski writes, “would restore, in effect, an imperial Russia with potential to ignite conflicts in Central Europe.”

Among the things Obama inherited from George W. Bush is a set of partnership charters with both Georgia and Ukraine. Moscow will want clarification of how far Obama plans to pursue those agreements, preferably not too far. Obama is expected to caution Moscow to keeps its mitts off Georgia and Ukraine — while acknowledging that NATO membership for the two nations is not in the works anytime soon.

Churchill’s “enigma” comment all those years ago implied the Soviets posed a psychological challenge for the West. So does present-day Russia.

It’s suffering an inferiority complex, worried about its internal ethnic tensions, an aging, declining population and the erosion of its economy. Moreover, it has never recovered from its loss of empire, studies show.

Resentment of the West — and a perception of the United States as an enemy — runs deep, according to recent polls. It’s something Obama is expected to tackle in a scheduled speech.

Putin’s Russia practices capitalism — indeed, it suffered the largest stock market losses in the current recession — and knows its future is tied to the West’s market economy. But with the killing of journalists and government control of most media, it’s something less than a democracy. And that doesn’t inspire confidence among foreign investors.

Under Putin, Russia has traded some of the freedom gained under the chaotic rule of Boris Yelstin for stability. “A soft authoritarianism” is how one observer defined Putin’s rule.

Obama and Putin, like Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, need each other for foreign and domestic political approval and advantage. They could well do a deal. But don’t expect anything like the back-slapping “Bill and Boris” show.

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