OBAMA PRESSES RESET BUTTONS WITH RUSSIA In a significant development regarding reductions of ‘Nuclear Armament’, USA and Russia

agreed to cut down their nuclear warheads by 1/3rd of the existing stockpiles. Pact to this effect was signed by Dmitry Medvedev and Barrack Obama in Kremlin on Monday. Obama’s maiden visit to Russia, the once staunch enemy of USA, is viewed as corollary of US administration’s vow to end hostilities and undo grotesque legacy of George W. Bush. Both leaders signed an agreement which would pave way for reduction of nuclear warheads by one third of existing stockpiles. This agreement would culminate in signing of a Treaty, said Obama and Medvedev, which will be formally prepared by the end of this year. This Treaty will replace START, 1991 (strategic arms reduction treaty) which is scheduled to expire in December 2009. This Summit marked the pressing of ‘Reset Buttons’, a significant change in American foreign policy of which Joe Biden had elaborated upon in Berlin conference early this year. Obama emphatically said ‘we resolve to reset US-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest’. It is a ‘reversal of drift’, the drift which had started during Bush regime. This détente will help create congenial atmosphere in the region, they claimed. Sources say that USA currently has 2,200 operational nuclear war heads whereas Russia has 2,790 such warheads. It is pertinent to mention here that US-Russia combine constitute 90% of global nuclear arsenals. Therefore one third reductions is a substantial one and ‘Operationalisation’ of this treaty would mean huge reduction in this stockpile. This would probably pave way for similar gestures by other nuclear powers across world. This Summit is also important for this region because relation between these two powers had sunk all time low in post cold war era on Georgian issue. The Georgian invasion on Ossetia and Abkhazia was supported by USA and other NATO countries were viewed by Russia as an invasion on itself. Russian military built-up in Black sea followed by NATO’s open support to Mikhail Saakashvilli, the Georgian president, has made US Russia confrontation somewhat imminent, thanks to

good sense prevailing that the situation was saved from going to all out war. This Summit of Obama and Medvedev would certainly instill confidence in the region and help return normalcy restored. However only signing of this agreement does not guarantee success of this resolution. In 2002 also Bush and Putin had singed such agreement which was sacrificed at the altar of mistrust and clash of interests. This Summit was different from that of George Bush and Putin in the sense that it meant business only and lacked jokes and personality clash. Obama and Medvedev were straight forward and meeting ran for 5 hours only. Obama oratory skill is widely acknowledged especially after his Cairo speech. He is not hector in his speech, a departure for Bush’s style. Obama choose to meet Putin also, because like many others, Obama too share the view that it is Putin who runs the country, a gesture though seems apparently related to courtesy and etiquettes, blended with hardcore diplomacy and reality. Obama ecstatically said that this pact would lead them to hold a ‘Global Summit on Nuclear Arms reduction’ next year. Apart from international media hype on this Pact, both leaders failed to reach to an agreement on ‘Missile Defense System’ of Eastern Europe. They remained at loggerheads on this, an issue on which USA has been rigorously pursuing and Russia persistently opposing. Obama’s hidden Agenda- This summit was not given the kind of coverage in State (Russia) controlled media, which generally such meetings get. TV channel one, the state controlled electronic media, did not show Obama’s visit in headlines. It is naïve to believe that the channel might have skipped it. This may be a calculated and calibrated telecast. Russia deliberately wanted to keep this visit at low pitch. Obama’s visit, according to Russia, might be aimed at killing two birds with one single stone. Obama knows it well that American success in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Israel and Palestine largely depends on Russia’s stand on these issues. Bygone are days when US had the ability to dictate terms. Now there is ‘no room on the chess board’ and US can no longer ‘play with the pawns’ as Paul Bracken has put it in his book ‘Fire in the East’. Obama has to undo Bush’s legacy which was characterized by ‘with us or against us’. America can no

longer afford hostilities all around the world. US Billion dollar national debts largely due to its whimsical war against terror have thrown this country in quagmire, of which USA is desperately trying to get out. Iran’s obstinacy, belligerence and ‘ready to fight attitude’, North Korea’s defiance, Israel’s reluctance to come to terms of much talked ‘two nation solution’ and seemingly unending war in Afpak region have shattered Obama in particular and Americans in general. Obama wants at least one success in this journey so that he can use it as sojourn in his long march to boondocks. Putin, a staunch nationalist and hardcore realist, is unwilling to give this leverage to Obama. Russia itself is recuperating from its economic shambles and desperately trying to regain a place in the world order, it has lost after eclipse of USSR. The post cold war era has so far not been a happy experience for Russians; they have lost the coveted status of ‘SUPER POWER’ and economic hegemony is a bygone chapter. Russia wants to show that it matters again and USA cannot take it for guaranteed. Gazprom crisis was deliberately created by Russia to make its presence felt in the international arena. Acceptance of MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEM as proposed and conceived by Bush cannot be acceptable to Russia in the above backdrop. For many experts ‘Missile defense system’ is an obsession of Bush same as STAR WARS or SDI (strategic defense initiative) was for Ronal Reagan. Hopefully obsessions and personality clashes did not figure in this summit. Well begin is half done, Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have miles to walk on bumpy roads in boondocks before they reach a resort of happiness and détente.

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