Monday, July 6, 2009

Meeting in Moscow

Moscow (Russia) - the Red SquareImage by eesti via Flickr

The meetings being held as I write in Moscow will decide how the US and Russia will deal with each other for rest of 2009 and perhaps beyond. The US wants Russia's help with Afghanistan, Iran and Palestine. Russia wants the US to draw back from Eastern Europe, Georgia and Central Asia. Both Russia and the US want to sign a successor treaty to START.

Russia has stated that the US can transport non-lethal and lethal materials over and perhaps on its territory for the Afghan effort. This will not come without a quid pro quo. The question is - what will the US give up? The BMD's in Poland will likely be postponed. The US will also likely agree to draw back a little on efforts to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. In the former, there is simply no strong desire and in the latter, the current government behaves too eratically to be considered an ally.

The BMD placement is really not a big deal since they are of questionable utility and Poland has just received significant military hardware from the US (50 F16) and will soon deploy Patriot missles as well. This will allow Poland to feel a little more secure and will satisfy Poland to the extent that it needs to at the moment. What else can the US give up? Very little, I would imagine, without damaging its credibility in Eastern Europe.

Ultimately, aside from a reduction in nuclear arsenals which both countries want, the geopolitical differences are not that flexible. I don't expect much to come out of the meeting other than a new START treaty, postponement of the BMDs and a temporary lull in the expansion of NATO.

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