Minds need 'reset' in Russia-US relations

Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich (RIA Novosti / Aleksandr Natruskin)
Moscow and Washington have managed to “reset” their relations at the highest political level, but that reset has yet to penetrate the minds of all interested players in the arena, Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich says.

“We often hear negative signals from the American Congress and other circles. We (in Russia) also have people who don't completely approve of such an intensive dialogue with the US,” Dvorkovich noted at a media briefing on Wednesday. Therefore, he went on, it is early to speak about a full reset. But nevertheless, at a high political level it has occurred – and yielded results.

The Kremlin aide stressed that it is now time to work on a new agenda in Russia-US relations, including the missile defense problem.

“The European defense issue is certainly a serious challenge for all of us. Indeed, we are hoping to achieve progress on the matter within the coming months. There won't be a rollback in this case,” he stated as cited by Interfax.

The missile defense project has lately been a major bone of contention in relations between Moscow and Washington. During the NATO-Russia summit in Lisbon in November last year, Moscow accepted the invitation to co-operate with the West in the creation of a missile defense shield in Europe. However, Russia insisted it would only participate in the project as an equal partner and not as a passive observer. Negotiations on the issue have been deadlocked since the US refused to provide legally-binding guarantees that the system would not be targeted against Russia. To make matters worse, the American side has failed so far to explain what role exactly Russia would play in the project.

Since the differences have not been ironed out, it is now not clear whether the Russian president will participate in the Russia-NATO summit in Chicago scheduled for May 2012.

Dvorkovich said that it is very likely that the Russian head of state will fly to Chicago for the G8 summit which will also be held there in May, shortly after the March presidential vote in Russia.

“It is premature to talk about whether [the new president] will take part in the NATO summit or not,” he stressed.