Obama, Putin to Meet in Russia

President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to hold a summit in Russia, according to a Tuesday RIA Novosti article.

Putin aide Dmitry Peskov said the newly re-elected U.S. leader confirmed the meeting during a recent phone call with the Russian head of state.

"Obama thanked (Putin) for the congratulations [on winning re-election] and the invitation and confirmed his readiness to come to Russia at a date to be agreed by the two sides," the presidential spokesman said.

"Putin wished his U.S. counterpart success in forming his new team" and the two men voiced their shared goal in achieving "progressive development of bilateral relations in all spheres," Peskov said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration has not settled on a date for the summit.

Improved relations with Moscow were one of the cornerstones of Obama's foreign policy goals during his first term. Though the two former Cold War antagonists were able to successfully negotiate and implement the New START nuclear arms control accord, their much-promoted "reset" faltered when Moscow and Washington were unable to see eye-to-eye on U.S. plans for European missile defense.

Moscow sees a threat to strategic nuclear stability in the missile interceptors the United States plans to field through 2020 around Europe. It will not accept verbal U.S. assurances that the antimissile systems are aimed at protecting against possible ballistic missile strikes from Iran.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the two sides should focus on improving relations rather than attempt to "reset" them again, RIA Novosti separately reported.

"Now we need not to again reset everything ... but to develop ties," the former Russian president told Finnish news organizations ahead of his trip this week to Finland.

"I can again say that the incumbent U.S. president is a person whom we can deal with, he listens to arguments, can communicate and make decisions," Medvedev said. 

"I am thankful to him for the years when we worked together," said Medvedev, who with Obama signed the New START pact that requires Russia and the United States to each limit their deployed arsenals of long-range nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems. "I hope that during his next term he will stick to the same approaches."

Obama in March was overheard telling Medvedev he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate an agreement on missile defense after the presidential campaign season was over.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Obama in his second four-year term would continue to focus on achieving more nuclear arms reductions with Russia.

Obama is hoping to secure an arms control agreement that would cut the two nuclear powers' arsenals substantially below the levels spelled out by New START, which does not cover tactical weapons. The White House is understood to want any new treaty to encompass strategic and nonstrategic weapons as well as deployed and warehoused warheads. 

U.S. officials point out Moscow has an inducement to dismantle old nuclear weapons as it is presently spending billions of dollars to update its strategic arsenal, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Moscow has directly linked any new two-way negotiations on nuclear weapons to achieving an agreement on missile defense that provides some form of guarantee that U.S. interceptors planned for deployment in Europe will not target Russian ICBMs. 

However, International Institute for Strategic Studies senior fellow Samuel Charap said there are signs Russia is easing away from a hard-line stance on the matter, which has included threatening a military response if Washington moved forward with its missile defense plans absent an agreement with Moscow. "I think they are waiting for us to put something on the table," the former State Department official said. "And waiting for the boss to opine."


November 14, 2012

President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to hold a summit in Russia, according to a Tuesday RIA Novosti article.