Russia and the European Union have set a course toward normalizing relations this week in the posh city of Nice on the French Riviera. Relations had suffered since Russia’s military involvement in Georgia. The newly found unity appears to be based in opposition to a third party, the United States, in two different areas.

European Union Council President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev agreed on the necessity for a special summit of the OSZE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) in mid-2009 to discuss the development of European security architecture. A major portion of that meeting will focus on U.S. plans to set up an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe, something strenuously opposed by Moscow. Russia recently threatened to base missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in response to the planned American action. Medvedev asserted that Russia would not take any unilateral action on that question. There are many critics of the shield system within the European Union itself.

Regarding the global financial crisis, Medvedev and Sarkozy were in agreement that everyone should pull together. The heads of the 20 most important industrial and developing nations will meet this weekend in Washington to lay the cornerstone for plans to reform the shaken world financial system.

“Our expectations are very similar,” said Medvedev. “We’re all in the same boat,” agreed Sarkozy. Russia and the European Union want to increase pressure on America to force it to accept sweeping changes.

They also agreed that the EU and Russia would resume talks on a new partnership agreement that had been postponed since the Georgian conflict.

A Putin comeback?

Meanwhile, Medvedev’s suggestion that the term of office for the Russian President be extended from four to six years awaits action by the Duma. Some speculate that such a change might be part of a plan in which Medvedev would prematurely resign and his predecessor would again become President. The official explanation for the suggestion is that the extension would make long-term development plans for the country easier to achieve.