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8 Jul, 2009 11:39

ROAR: “Obama is a tandem of power himself”

ROAR: “Obama is a tandem of power himself”

Analysts and media in Russia are not sure that Moscow and Washington really have reset relations during Barack Obama’s visit.

Observers in Moscow highlight the US president’s relations with the Russian power tandem and the agreements in the nuclear field. Some analysts note that Barack Obama’s criticism of Putin, which he had pronounced before the visit, was aimed at “dividing” the two members of the Russian power tandem.

Many experts warned that such an approach was not productive, taking into account the similar attitudes of Medvedev and Putin to international topical problems. “Splitting in this way the tandem of president and the prime minister according to the level of their influence, as well as questioning who is who in the Russian leadership is politically incorrect,” Maksim Minaev of the Center of Political Conjuncture of Russia told RT.

Russia has its own constitution, where the powers of the leaders are determined, and the US should take this into consideration while talking to the president and the prime minister, Minaev stressed.

The US president said just about this at a news conference in the Kremlin, but Minaev said that the first question that an AP reporter asked at that event “demonstrated insufficient respectfulness to us.” Minaev believes the question regarding the main leader in Russia was coordinated by the White House’s press service.

“I think Washington understands perfectly well whom and on what subjects it should talk to in Moscow, but do not abandon deliberate attempts to interfere in internal Russian political activities,” Minaev said. “This causes serious limitations for a full-fledged rapprochement between the two countries.”

Nevertheless, Minaev believes that Washington is going to carry on a dialogue on political and military issues with Medvedev, and on economic problems with Putin. “The priorities for the present Democratic administration are the first two fields,” he added.

The work in the political and military sphere will be supervised by a bilateral commission headed by the Russian president and his US counterpart. “We have seen nothing of the kind that could be led by Putin and Joseph Biden,” Minaev noted.

Aleksey Malashenko from the Carnegie Moscow Center told Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily that Obama is the head of state and government, which creates “a certain piquancy” in his relations with Medvedev and Putin.

“Obama himself personifies a tandem that we have here as a union of Medvedev and Putin,” Malashenko said. He added that Obama knew well that “the decision on Iran is made by Putin and his team.” The US president discussed with Putin problems “from the point of view of the present, and in case of Medvedev it was an attempt to feel what may be tomorrow, which other variants there may be.”

In “the present”, however, there was also a compromise signed by Obama and Medvedev – a document of mutual understanding, determining the range for delivery vehicles from 500 to 1,100 and the range for nuclear warheads from 1,500 to 1,675. The American side would welcome even fewer warheads, Minaev said.

“The results of talks in Moscow show that Obama and his team contented themselves with implementing a minimal plan, which is to be written in an ultimate document on strategic arms reduction by the end of this year,” Minaev noted.

Viktor Litovkin, deputy managing editor of the “Independent Military Review” newspaper described the document “on mutual understanding” as the most important among the documents signed in Moscow.

However, this framework agreement differs from the statements on strategic arms reduction that were made by the Russian and US presidents in London in April, Litovkin noted in a column posted on the Kommentarii.ru website. They spoke then about the possibility of “radical reduction,” almost to 1,000 warheads for each side, he added.

“The barrier of disagreements” that still remains in the relations between the two countries after Obama’s visit is the situation over the US missile shield in Europe, Litovkin said. Despite the fact that the document on mutual understanding links strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms, the Americans did not promise to stop deploying the shield, Litovkin added.

Obama only spoke about “monitoring” the program until autumn to consider its technical and combat efficiency. “Russian experts are still skeptical about the sincerity of US leaders when they say the missile shield is against rogue states and is not a threat to Russia,” Litovkin said.

He recalled that the US spoke once about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq with the same zeal and showed relevant photographs from space satellites. “The text of the strategic offensive arms treaty will be one document if it mentions missile defense and a different one without it,” Litovkin said.

President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Leonid Ivashov has described the document on nuclear arms signed in Moscow as “a hard compromise”. Americans spoke about the reduction “to 1000 warheads – to the level they are able to destroy or intercept, the Russian side probably mentioned 2000,” he told the Nakanune.ru website.

The framework mentioned in the agreement may be narrowed or widened, Ivashov said, saying that “the number of 1,675 warheads would satisfy Russia.”

The Russian business daily Kommersant wrote that the reduction of nuclear weapons was a priority for Obama. It was important to him to take back in the US a framework agreement with concrete parameters of impeding disarmament.

This kind of agreement was in fact signed in Moscow, but the two sides could not determine the number of strategic delivery vehicles, the paper noted. “An original decision had been found,” it added, and both Russian and American variants of reduction were recorded in the document.

This fact, however, means that the key disagreement on carriers has not been removed. The experts who prepare for the presidents a new treaty on strategic arms by December this year will have to deal with it.

At the same time, the mentioning in the document of mutual understanding any concrete numbers could be considered “a small victory for Obama,” Kommersant wrote. The paper believes that instead Obama had to make a concession and agreed to include a link between strategic offensive and defensive arms in the document.

At the same time analysts believe that the fact negotiations and the attempt to “reset” relations took place was positive in itself.

Litovkin said: “One should only welcome the desire of the two countries to talk and find mutual interests.”

Sergey Borisov, RT.