Clearly, the coming of a new president at the White House has generated numerous questions about the approach of American foreign policy. When leading after the Middle East were U.S. relations with Russia, badly damaged especially after the conflict in Georgia in autumn last year. Reported in the background of change promoted by team president Obama, many of the assumptions introduced by analysts of both parties have proposed an improvement of bilateral relations.
Improvement already exists of authorities from Moscow and Washington, at least in words. But all this takes place against the backdrop of a serious global crisis whose symptoms tend to exceed all projections. Thus we can take into account and a dose of tolerance due to the crisis, a temporary truce in which both countries faced with serious economic and social problems, try to resolve the situation internally, after which the external claims to be recast. A period in which both countries to assume the inherent differences as part of its strategic and economic interests, will accept a series of compromises tacitly and will review options and strategies.
America seems to try construction a dialogue around a given context: Russia’s sovereign democracy of Putin, at least in the first instance. Nor would another option at this time. Slowing economic growth will have an impact on all the defense budgets in the world, especially complicating mission of U.S. President Barack Obama, in full debate on “sharing responsibilities” in Afghanistan. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), which recently published report on the military forces of the world, “Military Balance 2009”, President Obama intends to reduce the herds American military in Iraq and to send reinforcements to Afghanistan would only partially solve the problem. Without the support of allies, concrete plan is questioned.
“In conditions of economic crisis, the European allies could choose to withdraw from Afghanistan, even if President Barack Obama will ask them for help”, said the commander of NATO forces in Europe. In the absence of european supporting, Russia may be an option. Kremlin seems willing to such a decision, even if Russia’s citizens do not mind a new involvement of their country in Afghanistan. But obviously, Kremlin wants something in return. “Russia is ready to help NATO to attain its objectives in Afghanistan and to prevent terrorism to extend into Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. But Georgia and Ukraine joining the Alliance will be considered by Russia a hostile approach and means the suspension of cooperation with NATO. This has already been warned about it “, claimed Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dimitri Rogozin, then comparing the integration of Ukraine and Georgia a “red line” that would better not be overlooked. If we consider that after the deterioration of relations with the U.S. as a result of conflict in the Caucasus, diplomatic sources in Moscow suggest that Russia could return to the agreements under which some NATO member states may use Russian airspace and maintain military bases in the states of Central Asia such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan¹ and Tajikistan, russian cooperation in Afghanistan becomes more important. In fact, both sides want preserving power to influence in the states of Central Asia, the important reserves of oil to here being in the top level of interest, but not only that it is. But an open conflict on this subject is excluded from both sides. Obviously, the partnership fair Medvedev called for the exchange of aid in Afghanistan require some compromises, of which the first is halting expansion North Atlantic Alliance.
Another aspect that has irritated Russia was installing anti-missile shield elements in Poland and Czech Republic. Recently, however, Moscow announced that it suspended the placement of missiles with nuclear warheads in Kaliningrad region. Americans have changed her attitude and not be hurried with anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, too, according to a statement the new president Barack Obama. Moreover, Poland, who initially claimed that the notice concerns Russia only gull vigilance NATO seems to have changed their opinion. Thus, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said: “I think that Iskander missiles are not the preferred option for Russia.” At this time are more optimistic than before” added Tusk, without making other clarifications, at the World Economic Forum in Davos (where he had bilateral talks with Russian Prime Minister). But Russia wants more thing. And he said it through Chancellor Angela Merkel and the EU Presidency in the Czech, in person Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek; just returned from Moscow where he mediated gas crisis, Topolanek said that is possible a Russia’s involvement in implementing anti-missile shield. “The global anti primarily provides protection against terrorist organizations. Therefore, cooperation, an open discussion, even in Russia-NATO format and at bilateral level, are extremely necessary” explained the czech Premier. “We are happy to cooperate with Russia in the matter anti-missile shield” came the reply over the Ocean by spokesman U.S. State Department. But it not too impressed Moscow. According to Russian analysts, postponement installing anti-missile shield is due to restrictions on economic and not a political decision.
Russia could in turn to accept a compromise in time for giving up strategic military partnerships with the Latin American friends during the Cold War, limiting at the economic treaties. Furthermore, terms of recent sign strategic agreement between Russia and Cuba have been unnoticed, President Medvedev giving to understand that the main purpose is boosting economic relations. Obviously, in all this economic context, Russia still has discourse on strategic military projects and re-army, which will probably be postponed. After withdrawing from the Conventional Forces Treaty in Europe as protest to install anti-missile shield, Russia has announced a program “to equip with weapons of quality and cutting-edge technology” of the Russian army, which extends up to 2016-2020.
Currently works for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denounced a state of “anacronism” existing in U.S. relations with Russia, suggesting that the only logical explanation would be that americans have a problem with changing the mentality of the specific period during War Cold. Moreover, Prime Minister Putin has noted that a such mentality is reflected in some European countries and even in Russia. “Russia is not handicapped, does not need help, wants to be a partner with equal rights” was lait-ground interventions of Prime Minister Putin at Davos. (Incidentally, as the new American administration has been absent from Davos (President Barack Obama was thanking send an adviser), Prime Minister Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, have awarded the “spotlight”). In addition, Vladimir Putin noted that although Russia, like all the world faces a crisis that it hasn’t generated, a priority the moment is finding solutions, not guilty of the charge. That is a mature and responsible attitude. A similar attitude from the U.S., according to Russia, would means a de facto renunciation of claims autoassumed to single superpower world and building a system of relations based on multilateralism.
Clearly, Russia will continue to use a double repertoire: a soft attitude of the Kremlin, designed to be “alkaline” solution in relations between Russia and the international community and the delicate, acidic statements, claims and sensitive decisions to be set out by Premier Putin. Thus the expected first meeting between Medvedev and Obama, which will take place at the G 20 meeting (2 April 2009) from London, has little chance to shape the evolution of relations between the two countries. Partial explanations could take place only after the U.S. president visit to Moscow, all provided in April, after anniversary NATO Summit (3-5 April 2009).
On the bilateral agenda between Russia and USA are the START 1 Treaty on strategic offensive weapons, which expires in December 2009. START Treaty, signed in 1991, sets ceilings for nuclear arsenals of USA and Russian; it became a symbol of Cold War conclusion. Russia decides to sign a new treaty, but there has been a break in some answers from Ocean. Barack Obama said he will study nuclear military strategy of the U.S. for several months.. Therefore, until the end of this term is unlikely that it can expect important decisions.
Focus on resolving these differences seems designed to obscure the movements of the two parties achieved on the second plan: China – Japan – India.
¹ while I writting this text even happend; Kirgiztan’s President said that the USA has requested the closure of U.S. base in Manas.
Published in Cadran Politic, no. 63 / february 2009