ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Apr.2

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
This Thursday ROAR presents analytical articles on the Medvedev-Obama meeting.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA publishes an article by German expert Alexander Rahr who analyses the outcome of President Dmitry Medvedev’s meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama.

The academic writes that at the London meeting of the Russian and American Presidents a working mechanism of bilateral relations between Russia and the US was finally created after years without any mechanism at all. The two leaders agreed to create a working group, a commission that would prepare the most important decisions to be later adopted by due political process by both sides.

The author also points out that the leaders agreed on the date of the US president’s visit to Russia, setting it on July this year, earlier than any other European visit planned for Barack Obama. It means, says Rahr, that Moscow has again become a very important partner for Washington.

Despite the existing differences in the missile defense issue, continues the author, Barack Obama’s call for a jointly developed missile defense system to protect Russia, Europe and the US from the actions of the ‘Rogue States’ brings hope to this matter, which in the very recent past was considered totally impossible.

Rahr also says that at the moment business interests of Russia and the US are getting closer, and that it would be a real breakthrough if the use of business connections to bridge political gaps, which works perfectly for Russia and France and for Russia and Germany, becomes as successful in Russia-US relations.

Nuclear disarmament and the limitation of strategic weapons are another matter on which the two sides seem to agree on without major difficulties, says the academic, but the matter is very complex. For Russia it is impossible to negotiate the limitations without regard to the fact that China is not that far behind in nuclear weapons. It may be possible that the nuclear arsenal would be needed to defend Russia from other threats besides the US.

However the very fact that the negotiations are going to be conducted speaks of the firm path that Russia and the US have chosen: the path to a nuclear-free world. The German academic says that this choice will definitely prompt them to pursue policies of non-proliferation and put pressure on such countries as North Korea, Pakistan and India so that they reduce their nuclear arsenals as well.

Of Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Berlin prior to the London summit and his meeting with the German leadership is a sign of a deep sense of trust that Moscow feels for Berlin, its main strategic partner not only in Europe but in the West as a whole. The author says that Dmitry Medvedev wanted a straight answer about the future of the Ukrainian gas pipelines (the programs to restore and upgrade them) and he received such an answer in Berlin: Germany will not be involved in any work on the pipelines if Russia is not a participant in the program.

One more matter discussed in Berlin was the restructuring of the debt of Russian companies to German banks, the main creditors of the Russian private sector in the past decade. Rahr says that German banks are ready for such restructuring. They will do it for the sake of the future, for post-crisis business development while they fully understand that private enterprises in Russia are not and will not be bailed out by government money.

What the Russian government can do, and does in this sense, is issue guarantees to German businesses active in the Russian market. A combination of private debt restructuring by German banks and government guarantees for German businesses may become one of the tools helping to overcome the crisis, says Rahr.

GAZETA writes that the presidential meeting at the London residence of the US Ambassador to the UK lasted one hour and twenty five minutes instead of fifty minutes scheduled for it. The paper says the two presidents decisively stopped the uncontrollable ‘drift’ of bilateral relations between Russia and the US and made a few more important decisions, such as the scheduling of President Obama’s visit to Russia in July 2009 and signing two joint declarations: one on bilateral cooperation and another on strategic assault weapons limitation.

The paper says strategic disarmament became the main topic at the meeting. The fact that the two presidents decided to see a progress report by their negotiators as early as in July, at their next meeting in Moscow, speaks of special concern on the part of the leaders of the two nations.

Experts quoted by the paper name several major obstacles existing on the path of nuclear disarmament, among them the disproportion between land-based and sea-based launch capabilities of the two nations, the ‘reverse potential’ of American warheads which are not destroyed but disarmed and stored instead, while Russian warheads are destroyed completely.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA quotes Russian experts as saying: there’s no need to get all excited about the results of the presidential meeting, but in many senses it was a breakthrough in Russia-US relations.

The experts consider the agreement to prepare and sign a new, legally binding strategic assault weapons limitation document to be such an element in bilateral relations between Russia and the US that is going to have global impact. Besides, the experts think that the exchange of opinions on missile defense, even with the clearly seen differences, may eventually lead to a better mutual understanding and, in the future, possibly even cooperation on the matter.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.