Marking a New Beginning

Fortunately, Moscow and Washington are no longer at loggerheads. Thanks to the setting in of a new thaw, based on interdependence, both countries now believe that they need to crack the Cold War prism. Complexities of globalisation and emerging power equations have put the erstwhile adversaries in cooperation spheres rather than confrontation.

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Published: Mon 6 Jul 2009, 10:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:31 AM

The forthcoming summit meeting of President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev has thus raised the optimism level as they sit back to talk on an agenda which ranges from arms control to Iran’s nuclear programme, and cooperation in Afghanistan to missile defence and non-proliferation.

Nonetheless, it won’t be easy for countries that have circled each other warily for decades to get along conveniently. A lot of homework and personal rapport will be needed to make things move. As the summit comes on the heels of an understanding both leaders had reached in April at the sidelines of the G20 talks in London, it should go a long way in transforming their desire for scrapping nuclear arms, and reengaging with renewed confidence as NATO expands eastward on the borders of Russia.

Medvedev, however, has a couple of concerns and prime among them is Washington’s proposed installation of a controversial missile defence system in the heart of Europe. Moreover, the ill will in the backdrop of a conflict in Caucasus prevails to this day.

The US has its own list. It wants Russia to back tough sanctions against Iran if diplomatic efforts to curb its nuclear programme fail, and adopt a proactive strategy while fighting an unending war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

Obama, thus, will have to do some hard talking as he tries to convince his counterpart to scrap his nuclear arsenal – which has been a hallmark of Kremlin’s identity even long after it lost the clout of being a world super power. Their true test will reflect in their willingness to replace the landmark START-I nuclear arms control pact with a new treaty encompassing the newfound spirit of disarmament. Any progress in this realm will be no less than a miracle on the path of making the world a safer place to live in, as the United States and Russia possess more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The summit, irrespective of its outcome, may long be remembered as a milestone in their otherwise fractured relationship. And especially in an era when an American president has embarked on an agenda of recasting America’s image for the world at large.

Obama’s air dash to Moscow on the heels of the goodwill he has generated in Europe and the Muslim world is likely to address many major Russian concerns. Russia and America need new, common, mutually beneficial projects in business, science and culture in order to rewrite their relationship in a neutral context of bilateralism. Intricate issues such as missiles and nukes can take a backseat as both build up enough courage and confidence in each other for harnessing a change, which will impact positively in a world so ridden with chaos and crisis.

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