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The United States may propose to Russia to launch negotiations over further reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, the Vedomosti daily reported. US Vice-President Joseph Biden may make this proposal at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a session of the Munich Security Conference in early February, the US magazine Foreign Policy said in its blog. US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who will visit Moscow in February and will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, may also make this initiative.
It is not ruled out that the US can set the target level of 1,000-1,100 deployed warheads for new reductions, the newspaper cited head of the project “Nuclear Weapons in Russia” Pavel Podvig. In 2012 the US has made a review of the policy over the country’s nuclear weapons (Nuclear Posture Plan), which offers the level of 400 warheads as a more radical variant of reductions and the level of 1,000-1,100 warheads as a more moderate variant of reductions, Podvig recalled. In October 2012, according to the information, which the US State Department has made public over the fulfilment of the Russian-US Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offense Arms (the new START Treaty) signed in 2011, Russia had 1,499 deployed strategic nuclear warheads and the US had 1,737 warheads. Meanwhile, the new START Treaty stipulates that the signatories can have no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads by February 2018.
Medvedev and Putin stated repeatedly that further reduction of strategic nuclear weapons is possible only if the missile defence problem is settled, and Russia’s response to future US initiatives will depend on how convincingly this decision will be presented in this context, Podvig said. The US also has a serious opposition to further reductions, as the US Congress will also not permit Obama to link them directly with the missile defence systems, the expert believes. The US will certainly propose to launch negotiations on tactical nuclear weapons, a sharp reduction of which is unprofitable for Russia. Meanwhile, if the number of warheads is reduced to 1,000, the question will arise to involve China, France and Britain in the nuclear disarmament negotiations over stored, but not deployed US weapons, a source close to the Russian Defence Ministry said. The development of new liquid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles in Russia will be put into question, as the country needs these missiles for the guaranteed nuclear deterrence in case of deployment of a large-scale US missile defence system in the future, he said.
Most Russians value Vladimir Putin for his experience
Now most Russians value Russian President Vladimir Putin for his experience, though they valued him as “a decisive and strong-willed personality” and a guarantor of stability before. The experts of the analytical Levada Centre found these changes in the public moods, the Kommersant daily reported. The sociologists noted that Vladimir Putin’s image, which has weakened quite strongly 18 months ago, “is reanimating gradually.”
In January 2011 16% of Russian respondents could not say what they like in Putin. A year ago their percentage was 23% and now it is 26%. One more change that now people respect Vladimir Putin primarily as “an experienced politician”. The majority of the respondents of 30% noted this personal quality of the Russian president, though before January 2011 the most attractive features in Putin for the Russians were that he is “an energetic, decisive and strong-willed personality” – 34% (41% in August 2009). Now 28% of respondents noted this personal quality of the president. The attitude to the president as “a person, who ensures stability in the country” also changed. He was valued as a guarantor of stability most of all in 2007 (23%).
The attitude to the president as “a person, who can make people following him” is also changing. In 2007, 22% of Russian pollsters valued this capability in the Russian leader, 11% - a year ago and 14% now. Vladimir Putin’s image “is reanimating gradually,” deputy director of the Levada Centre Alexei Grazhdankin said. But the sociologist does not want to forecast whether Putin’s image will restore to the level of his first two presidential terms. “Everything will depend on the well-being of the Russians, as the satisfaction with your life usually brings the satisfaction with the work of the country’s top leadership,” he noted.
With all changes in his image “Vladimir Putin will remain the most popular politician in Russia,” State Duma Vice-Speaker from the LDPR Igor Lebedev told the Kommersant daily. “The margin in the level of this popularity will be enough for Putin to feel calmly at least until the end of his current presidential term,” he said with confidence.