Tuesday's press review

This Tuesday Russian newspapers pay tribute to the late Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and try to predict the future of Russia-U.S. relations during the presidency of Barack Obama.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA quotes Sergey Stepashin, the Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society who writes about Patriarch Aleksy II: ‘The Russian people have suffered an irreplaceable loss. The man who left us was a true national spiritual leader of Russia where Orthodox Christianity is the religion of the majority of the population. An outstanding church hierarch, a man of deep roots and deep faith who throughout his life defended the spiritual and cultural values of his people,… he protected the cultural and spiritual unity of the nation during the most difficult periods of our history, strengthened the fundaments of Russian statehood, facilitated the unanimity of thinking of the state, the public and the church.’

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA quotes Tom Brokaw’s Sunday NBC interview with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama in which the newly-elected American leader said that he wants to ‘reset’ America’s relations with Russia. The paper also publishes a commentary to Obama’s interview by Professor Alexey Bogaturov, the Deputy Head of the Moscow State University of International Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

The academic says that the intentional use by Obama of a computer term ‘reset’ may mean a positive intention to start anew, to disregard all the differences the U.S. and Russia accumulated over the past years and especially the past months. However, continues Bogaturov, a well-known expert on U.S.-Russia relations, it is just not possible to forget these latest developments, especially because they gave birth to the idea that the U.S. may be seriously considering the possibility of a war with the Russian Federation.

IZVESTIA writes about the same interview with a touch of humour: ‘Obama promised to cooperate with Moscow and refrain from smoking in the White House.’ The paper says that whatever may have been Obama’s rhetoric on relations with Russia during his presidential campaign, today he understands that he can develop better contacts with Moscow and that he needs to do it. Especially now, continues the paper, when Russia has become economically successful.

KOMMERSANT sees in the same interview a clear sign of Obama’s plan to normalize relations with Russia, commenting: ‘The Russian leadership is also inclined to make friends with the successor of George Bush: only a week ago President Medvedev ordered the creation of a plan to normalize Russo-American relations. However, the two nations can only start their reconciliation in January next year, when the Bush team vacates the White House."

The paper says that Russian diplomats are counting on the supposed flexibility of the new U.S. administration in the matters of missile defence and eastward expansion of NATO. Moscow also hopes, continues the paper, that unlike the current administration, Obama’s government will be supportive of President Dmitry Medvedev’s initiative on Euro-Atlantic security. The paper quotes Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, who says that if Barack Obama indeed answers the hopes harboured by people all around the world, if he indeed corrects the old neo-conservative line, he will meet with understanding in Moscow.

The same paper notes that the situation at the six-party talks on the North-Korean nuclear program requires closer cooperation between the U.S. and Russia. The paper says U.S. diplomats have already been quoted as saying that they hope that Russia will have a more active role concerning the system of controls discussed at the negotiations, as Russia has more experience with the use of plutonium.

The paper adds that Russia is as interested in the success of the negotiations as the U.S., and just as eager to provide aid to North Korea in exchange for discontinuation of its nuclear weapons program, while other participants in the talks are not even ready to discuss aid at the moment, making Russia the only ally the U.S. can count on in these negotiations, concludes the paper.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.