Medvedev-Obama: It is Farther from “Reloading” than One would Like it to Be
08.07.2009 12:02
Andrei Fediashin, RIA Novosti political observer – specially for InfoSCO

Obama-Medvedev Summit makes everybody glad. And the President Dmitry Medvedev, having thought over what happened on Monday, on Tuesday said at the second and last Moscow meeting with the American colleague: “I remembered what we spoke about yesterday, and have come to a conclusion that we spent time not for nothing. The visit turned out to be informative in all respects, including all the elements of the Russian-American cooperation, foreign-policy questions, bilateral relations, economy, and humanitarian ties.”

“We spent time not for nothing” - this phrase resembles a statement of success not very much. Most probably, “reloading” will be somewhat delayed.

The most actual results achieved at the summit, as expected, surfaced in the sector of struggle against international terrorism, also including the establishment of a “Russian transit corridor” to Afghanistan for the American military cargo. The Americans will be able to save annually over $130 million. We will also restore a commission for cooperation in many fields. Lest we forget, such a commission existed already under Yeltsin, so all that is nothing new.

Declaration of Intentions regarding START-3 (the signed document is precisely this) is not bad either. Eventually it could be worse: now it appears that there could be no agreement even like this. Under George Bush Jr. it wouldn't come off. But we are not under Bush already. And yet it is not clear that Russian-American relations have really approached to “reloading”: either the button is wrong, or it goes wrong to push it and it is necessary to wait a little with it.

Most probably, the problems were so neglected in the 43rd president’s days, that the 44th one will require much more time, than one would like it to be for this reloading. Perhaps, it is not this any more that must be spoken about, but the change or modernization of the whole system configuration? As well as a serious reappraisal of quality guidelines: national and geopolitical, military and economic ones. It is already clear that consideration of our interests in Asia, Africa, Latin America must be more solidly built in this configuration, as well as our relations with China, India, Brazil, South Africa, with nearest neighbors, including the SCO countries. Without such a revision of configuration, a quality change of our relations with the USA is unlikely to become real.

We have spoken for such a long time about the changed world, but the Russian-American relations, at least, in the eyes of one party, still can not come out from a rudimentary quality perception. In Russia, we are considered much more important, significant, influential and stronger (in the military, economic, geopolitical, resource -energy, Eurovideo, football etc. respects), than we are actually. The USA considers itself the same, but also continues to take Russia for that of Yeltsin times, simply more covered with oil ships and gas pipes, these attributes of energy or, simply speaking, raw-material superpowerness.

Generally speaking, both are the simple truth, certainly, if one thinks about and look at oneself from the outside. Moscow and Washington have been long ago not equal partners, even in the military field. Needless to say of others. That is why it is not worth the trouble to be touched by the mere fact that the parties, as was said more than once at the summit, showed their readiness to meet habitat, understand concerns of each other, accept them. And that they struck better compromises that were possible as matters stand. But to what extent is it an achievement? There is mush of “mist” in the sphere of main arrangements – for strategic offensive arms limitation.

It is interesting, if in 2002, under Bush and the President Putin, they had been told that 7 years later, in 2009, their successors would have signed a document (“reached joint understanding ") almost similar by its essence to the signed by them in Moscow Strategic Offensive Potentials Reduction Treaty, how would they have taken it? As progress?

Under this treaty (we recall that it has never been cancelled) the USA and Russia undertook to reduce their nuclear warheads to the level of 2200-1700 by 2012. According to the present signed framework agreement, even then only after the new treaty START has come into effect (in seven years) the number of warheads will be reduced to 1500-1675. Even if the treaty is signed at the beginning of next year, then, consequently, by 2017, we will have to reduce only 25 warheads. In other words, we will stay in 2017 approximately at the same place, where we would have stayed in 2012 under the treaty signed with the same George Bush Jr. who by universal consent, including American one, drove the American-Russian relations to so low level.

But the greatest problem is not that. The question at issue is that in talking about strategical nuclear reductions and their complications, sometimes much more venomous topics of the Russian-American relations fade into insignificance.

This is a regional and geopolitical opposition and, lately, the economic one as well (energy and raw-material). Their roots are much deeper, complication is higher. Furthermore, they often have multilevel quantitative and qualitative structure (for example, different approach of the USA, NATO, EU to NATO expansion to the East, measure of Europe’s support of NATO participation in Ukraine and Georgia, and in UN - sanctions on Iran and North Korea). It would be wrong to say that these problems are neglected. They are the opposition’s metastases that with the restoration of Russia’s political and economic influence can be developed.