ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Mar.04

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
This Wednesday ROAR presents a sketch of the coming Spring of International Diplomacy, an analytical report on U.S. missile defense and another on the difficulties of talking to Iran.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA’s Artur Blinov writes in the weekly supplement DIPKURIER: this coming spring, world diplomacy will undergo revitalisation on a grand scale with important visits being planned and conducted right now, and the London summit of the G20 as the culmination point.

There are two main elements that contribute to the change in the mode of life of the diplomatic community: the global economic crisis and the first steps of the new US administration. So far, says the author, the Obama cabinet is busy solving the military problems created before its term and seeking ways to ‘reset’ relations with Russia, and to create the mechanisms of regional co-operation in the Middle East to ensure stability in Afghanistan.

The new administration, writes the author, is firmly against ‘neglecting the negotiations table,’ even when dealing with Iran. European nations also apply to Washington’s common sense and ask the US to ‘negotiate with Russia within the framework of the existing institutions,’ meaning, in the writer’s opinion, that Europe fears losing its influence over processes like disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, so European diplomats are joining the spring marathon too.

For Russia and the US, strategic stability in the world remains the main topic on the diplomatic agenda, followed by co-operation in Afghanistan and probable interaction over Iran. The concrete forms of such co-operation have not been discussed yet, but it is clear that they will emerge from the ‘diplomatic marathon’ this spring.

In the daily edition of NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA Andrey Terekhov writes that the budget report on the US missile defense system for Europe published recently in Washington confirms the fears of Russian experts of the dangers of US counter-missiles for Russian national security. All three options (two land-based and one sea-based) diminish the effectiveness of Russia’s strategic weapons or intercept another nation’s – Iran’s – missiles over Russian territory, endangering the population.

He writes that the missile defense system will definitely be on the negotiations table between Russia and the US but so far no one can predict if a deal on Iran will be enough to avert the dangers and shift the balance back to a normal equilibrium. The writer says that negotiations on co-operation in and on Iran may become only part of a bigger Russian-American deal, albeit an important part.

Alexey Fomenko of the Institute of International Security in Moscow writes in the POLITIKA weekly supplement that in spite of the fact that some experts draw pictures of possible US–Iran co-operation of the kind they enjoyed in the 1970s, this scenario is very unlikely because the drastic changes in Iran after the Islamic revolution created so many controversies with everything American that it became difficult for the US to deal with Iran in any given sphere.

The academic says that different understanding of nuclear status and non-proliferation, the US vow to protect the Sunni states of the Middle East while Iran positions itself as the only Shiite state in the world, the long-term psychological shock suffered by the US during the American Embassy hostage crisis, as well as ‘Irangate’ will not allow Iran and the US to become close allies any time soon.

Commenting on the leaked letter exchange by presidents Obama and Medvedev, VREMYA NOVOSTEI quotes Russian-American academic Nikolay Zlobin, who says that the solving of the Iranian problem and the deployment of US missile defense elements in Eastern Europe are tightly interconnected. He reminds readers how the US ‘was surprised by Moscow’s firmly negative reaction to missile defense, because the Americans are sure that Iranian nuclear-tipped missiles will be as dangerous for Russia as they will be for the US.’

Zlobin says that it is unlikely that Obama will discontinue the missile defense problem immediately even if he gets the best possible deal from Moscow, because there are agreements with Warsaw and Prague, which are not so easy to dismantle. However, he is optimistic about the organised leak of presidential mail exchange. He thinks it signals that Barack Obama wants to find out if Moscow is indeed ready for a dialogue in every sphere of relations.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT