April 5, 2009
This week’s meeting in London between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev was very welcome. They are to seek to agree a new arms control treaty this year. Obama has ‘pressed the reset button’, as promised. The atmosphere of the meeting was good.
With Barack Obama replacing George W Bush, hopefully western understanding of Russian sensitivities will increase. Russia’s invasion of Georgia and its reaction to the South Ossetia state of affairs are indefensible and reflect an aggressive attitude which some claim is a return to traditional thinking. Little thought has been addressed to the effect of western attitudes on Russian behaviour.
From a Russian standpoint, the anti-missile shield based in the Czech Republic and Poland, and the admission of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO, constitute aggressive acts. And so they are, whatever their true intentions. They also provoke potentially dangerous nationalist sentiments in Russia.
It is hard to understand, from a western standpoint, the advisability of expanding NATO to Georgia and Ukraine.
While it is not yet possible publicly to abandon the two policies (the defence shield and NATO expansion), the signs are good. The anti-missile shield is surely dead, but cannot yet be buried. Expansion to embrace Georgia and Ukraine were not on the Strasbourg-Kehl summit’s agenda.Author : Stanley Crossick