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Obama’s victory gives a chance to Russian-U.S. relations

November 08, 2012, 11:21 UTC+3
Headline news in Russian media is Barack Obama’s re-election to his second presidential term
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The headline news in Russian media is Barack Obama’s re-election to his second presidential term. The press dwells on how the result of the presidential elections in the United States might influence its relations with Russia.

The good news for Moscow is that Obama’s victory in the U.S. presidential race cancels of postpones a new cold war between the United State and Russia for at least another four years, or till the next presidential election in the U.S., writes the Kommersant newspaper. A scenario providing for the freezing of relations between the United States and Russia that looked so inevitable a couple of days ago has been withdrawn from the agenda after Democrat Barack Obama defeated his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

The key question now is whether a “reset” in the Russian-American relations is still possible and whether it would take rebranding. Unlike Mitt Romney who has never been considered as a potential partner in Moscow, Barack Obama is still a partner for the Kremlin, although a problem one. Washington is looking upon Moscow the same way. Hence, the reset in the relations between the two countries would depend on whether each of them could be able to learn from earlier mistakes.

A key task for Moscow is to stop looking upon the United States as country seeking to influence the domestic political situation in Russia on the sly to frustrate its basic interests in the Eurasian space, first of all in the former Soviet republics, the newspaper writes. A task for Washington is to accept the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin would never agree to be the United States’ junior partner, a role so much imposed on Moscow.

But the main task for both is to spot accusing each other of seeking to block or upset the relations.

The United States president is generally more free during his second term in office, since he faces no further presidential race, political scientist Boris Makarenko told the Kommersant. “It means that in the next four years Barack Obama would be ready for more daring options. It gives a new chance to continue resetting relations with Moscow,” he said.

“There has been no reset of relations between Russia and the United States. It was a mere normalization, which was given this fine name, and this normalization did ake place,” Sergei Karaganov, the chairman of the presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. “Now we have normal. Business-like relations, close cooperation in many areas.” According to the expert, such cooperation is bound to continue, regardless of how take the post of the U.S. Secretary of State.

According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, interest to the presidential elections in the United States was rather moderate in Russia. The newspaper cites the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Centre (VCIOM) where only 40 percent of those polled in September said they knew that the presidential campaign was being held in the United States.

According to VCIOM, the overwhelming majority of Russians would have voted for Barack Obama, if they had this right. Each fifth of the polled said he or she felt sympathy or respect to the U.S. leader. The bulk of them are people with higher education diplomas (23 percent) and residents of big cities (33 percent).

“Those in Russia who, due to these or those reasons, would want tensions in Russia’s relations with the United States, don’t welcome Barack Obama’s reelection. It would be much easier to embark on the policy of conformation with Mitt Romney who has declared Russia as the United States’ geopolitical foe number one,” the newspaper cites Alexei Arbatov, the head of the International Security Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the World Economy and International Relations. “Those in Russia who wants cooperation with the United States, hail Obama’s reelection. His administration will keep to strategy in relations with Russia it formed four years ago.”

According to Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of the journal Russia in Global Politics, Obama is likely to try to strengthen what is called the “reset” of relations with Russia. “It means he would focus on approximately the same set of topics, such as nuclear weapons cuts, the discussion on the problem of missile defence, Iran, Afghanistan,” he told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta. “Since the first “reset” was just a favorable set of circumstances, it was a success. Now Moscow is not that interested in this selection of topics: it has no intention to further cut arms, neither it wants to exert more pressure on Iran.”

According to Lukyanov, the Russian-U.S. relations might change is another agenda is offered. “It shouldn’t feature echoes of the Cold War we have been harping on for years but instead include such topics as cooperation in Asia and the Arctic, or a question how to change the obsolete system of control over proliferation of nuclear arms,” he said. “And here an utterly new approach might be proposed. A kind of resetting of the reset.”


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