21 March 2012, 20:38

Putin, Obama to meet in May

Putin, Obama to meet in May

A few days after his inauguration on May 7th, new Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the entire range of Russia’s relations with the United States at a meeting with his American counterpart Barack Obama. The announcement came from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

A few days after his inauguration on May 7th, new Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the entire range of Russia’s relations with the United States at a meeting with his American counterpart Barack Obama. The announcement came from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian analyst Dr Leonid Polyakov explains the nature of the Russian-American dialogue:

"Each of the sides understands its interests and is determined to defend them. Fortunately, this does not lead to conflict, because there are no major disagreements between Russia and the United States. The disagreements that exist are limited to concrete problems and can be sorted out through a bilateral dialogue."

One perennial sticking point is missile defence. The United States continues to decline Russian requests for legally binding guarantees that no American or NATO missile defence installation on European soil will compromise Russia’s deterrence capability. Although the negotiations on this issue are difficult, Russia does not see them as hopeless.

Another sticking point – hopefully, not quite so perennial as the first one – is Russian-American trade.

Dr Polyakov again:

"Incredibly, and also offensively to the Russian side, the US continues to keep the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which restricts Russian import to the US under the now preposterous pretext that Russia hampers the emigration of Jews to Israel. Some American lawmakers continue to insist that this legislation is still relevant. Fortunately, they are a tiny minority in the US Congress, and the amendment is in its dying days."

The Putin-Obama summit is also expected to produce common ground on the crisis in Syria and on the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.

Barack Obama will probably also be happy to talk about the prospects of global strategic cooperation between his country and Russia.

Russian analyst Dr Vilen Ivanov explains why:

"The summit is much more important for Obama than Putin, because the American President is in the middle of a re-election battle. Naturally, he needs to be heard to be talking about plans to build good relations with Russia. Putin will certainly reciprocate the overture, and not for the sake of diplomatic courtesy alone. Indeed, Russia does not seek a conflict with the US and is after a constructive relationship with it. As for concrete long-term decisions, the May summit is unlikely to bring any."

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