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Vzglja, Russia

Eternal Call

By Anna Analbaeva

Moscow has announced that it is ready to receive Barack Obama at any time.

Translated By Maryna Laurynovich

1 February 2013

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken

Russia - Vzglja - Original Article (Russian)

President Barack Obama is unlikely to come to Russia before the G20 summit in September. According to the State Duma, there is no proper agenda for such a visit because “rebooting” is not going anywhere, and all negotiations are stuck on the missile defense system. Experts say there is still a chance they may come to an agreement, but Obama’s political opponents prevent him from making concessions to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, announced that a visit, separate from the G20 summit, has not been planned, although he confirmed that the U.S. leader has an “open invitation.”

“The Republicans are watching Obama very attentively. If he shows any weakness, they will punish him.”

“Right now an individual visit is not on the agenda. The U.S. president has an open invitation with no fixed terms,” said Peskov. “The terms were not discussed through diplomatic channels,” said the press secretary.

Peskov has also said that the Kremlin is looking forward to a productive meeting at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. According to him, invitations have already been sent to all the summit’s leaders. This upcoming visit to Russia will be the first for Barack Obama since his re-election.

But in mid-December, Putin’s deputy chief of stuff Yuri Ushakov did not exclude an Obama visit during the first half of the year. According to him, Moscow has been negotiating a full-scale visit. “They need to choose a time without delay.”

The Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs Alexei Pushkov said that Obama is unlikely to visit Russia before the G20 summit, which is scheduled in September in St. Petersburg. “Obama probably won’t come to Russia before the G20 in September because there is a lot of controversy and so far no breakthrough. There’s no program yet for a new rebooting,” said Pushkov in his Twitter.

The U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said earlier that the visit could be combined with the participation at the G20. According to “Kommersant,” this could be explained in connection with the lack of success in the dialogue on the disarmament. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Russian Federation Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov are expected to discuss this particular subject during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Recall that Moscow has decided that the possibility of arms reduction is dependent on the progress of missile defense. According to “Foreign Policy” magazine, Obama’s national security advisor, Tom Donilon, is coming to Moscow in February to bring Vladimir Putin a personal letter from his chief, containing suggestions on strategic weapons and missile defense systems. There haven’t been any new agreements between Moscow and Washington since the START 3 agreement went into effect two years ago, obligating both sides to reduce and limit the number of deployed and un-deployed strategic weapons.

“There are a lot of things I don’t know about.”

In the meantime, personnel changes related to U.S foreign policy are still taking place in Obama’s Cabinet. The day before, former Republican Senator and Pentagon Chief nominee Chuck Hagel spoke at the Senate Armed Service Committee. He promised to observe START-3, despite criticism of the agreement from some other Republicans. “If confirmed, I will focus intently on ensuring that U.S. military is in fact prepared for any contingency,” said Hagel.

According to observers, Hagel’s speech was not successful. He did not sound confident. According to “The Ticket”, Republicans have already started a massive campaign against Obama’s favorite. They released failed quotes from his speech to the media, such as “I've said I don't know enough about it. There are a lot of things I don't know about. I, if confirmed, intend to know a lot more than I do. I will have to.” Hagel’s chances are still high though. Democrats have 55 seats out of 100 in the Senate, which has the last word on appointing the secretary of defense. Although, it is not clear how many of Obama’s followers will be loyal to the party on this matter after Hagel’s fiasco.

“Congress can always pull him back.”

Besides that, Friday was Hillary Clinton’s last day at work.

Her successor, John Kerry, is known for making a great contribution to the “rebooting” with Russia. He was one of the most ardent advocates of the START-3, although you cannot call him a “pro-Russian” politician. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday that he expects a positive relationship dynamic with the new secretary.

Victor Kremenyuk, deputy director of U.S. and Canadian studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doubts that the parties will be able to overcome existing disagreements by September to formulate a new “rebooting” program.

“There are always preconditions for improving relations between States, but under the condition that hysterics, arguments and desire for revenge will not be present. The problem is that these relations have been strongly connected with emotions like suspiciousness, dislike and a lack of desire to understand each other and everything else that was seen during the legislation change,” said Kremenyuk in the “Vzglad” newspaper.

Kremenyuk reminded that Putin himself did not go to the U.S. immediately after his re-election, refusing to participate at the G8 summit during May 18-19. At that time, the head of the Russian Federation decided to make his first foreign visit to Belarus. Kremenyuk does not rule out that Obama has not forgotten this and may not go to Russia because of it. Besides that, he does not want the Republican opposition to accuse him once again of being weak.

“The U.S. president, with all his powers and possibilities, is a very dependable person. The media constantly watches him and if he shows any signs of weakness, he will be punished. The Republicans watch him carefully too. If Obama shows any signs of what they call “weakness”, they will punish him as well,” said Kremenyuk. “Besides, Congress can always pull him back.”



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