OPINION

Obama turns page with Russia

After a brief transitional hiatus, relations between the USA and Russia seem to be settling on more solid ground. US President Barack Obama’s talks with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow were more than exploratory. Both sides stated their desire to form a new constructive relationship that would address areas of mutual interest and concern. The previous US administration under George W. Bush adopted a crude strategy of encircling Russia with Washington’s political and military allies. The US approach also served another purpose: to force Europeans to take its side and relinquish any plans for political emancipation and the development of partnerships with Moscow. President Obama, in contrast, has taken a more realistic approach to international dynamics, realizing that America can no longer act as the global superpower and that the system is already complicated enough with the emergence of new major powers. The new US president immediately embarked upon a series of diplomatic overtures that would ensure his country’s hegemony – if to a lesser extent. He strengthened the Atlantic alliance so that he could have a better handle on international issues. Meanwhile, relations between the USA and Europe are also influenced by Russo-American relations. Obama, however, also has a direct interest in finding common ground with Russia, especially when it comes to international disputes. The political cost, moreover, is not great, as Moscow’s main demand is that the USA stop encircling it with its own allies and that it recognize the role it merits in the international arena. Under those terms, Moscow is willing to find a modus operandi with Washington, which would also include Europe. Furthermore, any agreement between the three powers will make it easier to address their shared concerns over China’s impressive rise to power.