MOSCOW (Reuters) - The following are analysts’ comments on agreements reached on Monday between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
ROLAND TIMERBAYEV, FORMER RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR AND CHAIRMAN OF THE Center FOR POLITICAL STUDIES RUSSIA (PIR), MOSCOW.
”I think the nuclear missile announcement is a good beginning. It gives some impulse to the negotiators to continue with the text. Both presidents want it and both of them need it, that’s the important thing, but resetting relations will be a long process that cannot be done in a single day.
“The move on Afghanistan is very significant. We know Afghanistan very well, we were there, it’s important we halt the flow of drugs we get from there.”
KATE HUDSON, CHAIR OF CAMPAIGN FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, UK
”This is very positive and it’s been achieved very rapidly. It’s a very good start -- it’s about a third of the arsenals and also includes delivery systems, which is something that the Russians were very keen to have included. Obviously, we’d like it to go further, but it’s a very good start.
”One area where we’d like to see further progress is around the thorny issue of missile defense as well, but it looks like there is more to discuss there.
“I think the changed attitude by the U.S. administration (allowed this to happen)... President Obama seems genuinely to have a commitment in the direction (of nuclear disarmament) and it is obviously mirrored by Medvedev. It’s the first time that Russia has said that it agrees with the goal of global abolition, which is very significant.”
MALCOLM CHALMERS, RESEARCH FELLOW AT ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE, LONDON
”I think it would have been very disappointing if they had not struck a deal. That said, this is a framework agreement -- as you can see from the numbers, there’s a large margin. There are some very big gaps.
”What’s critical is how far they can now go, not just in pinning down the details they’ve announced today, but in giving an indication of where they are going next.
“One of the issues on the agenda (in the future) is actually finding a way of controlling actual warheads. This framework does not control actual warheads, it controls delivery vehicles for warheads... Warheads in storage are not covered and tactical weapons are not included. The further you come down toward 1,000 warheads or below, the more it matters.”
ARIEL COHEN, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATIONIN WASHINGTON
”I think the main priority for Obama and Medvedev in terms of arms control has been achieved. They managed to continue the arms control regime between the United States and Russia, this is an area where state interests coincide, so is Afghanistan.
”They agreed to disagree on missile defense and they also agreed to continue their differences on Iran. I can’t say that this is a fully fledged ‘reset’ of relations.
“It’s important Obama did not cede his position on missile defense, there were concerns in Washington it would be traded for no tangible benefits. Hopefully that did not happen.”
MARK FITZPATRICK, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NON-PROLIFERATION, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES IN LONDON
“This is about what had been expected. It’s very good news that the two presidents were able to reach this agreement in time, so that the agreement on a replacement treaty for START will be ready by the end of the year, when START runs out.”
”The cuts themselves are not that significant. But it does get the ball rolling because arms control has been dead in the water for the last eight years. There’s now a prospect for further cuts in the upcoming years.
“In terms of the nuclear arms themselves, Russia is reluctant to cut back too far because of its conventional weapons inferiority to the United States and its concerns about U.S. ballistic missile defenses offsetting Russia’s deployed nuclear arms.”
”The commitment on completing negotiations by the end of the year is quite important but on the other hand it doesn’t change much, because we’re not on the brink of nuclear war.
”By agreeing on Afghanistan and the nuclear treaty they are exhausting the relatively easy areas for cooperation, because these are two areas where their interests are not contradictory, when compared to other areas.
”On other topics like Iran and post-Soviet countries, compromises will not be enough and one side must change position, which is therefore more complicated.
“We will have a new honeymoon until the end of this year and then it depends on how they succeed in improving the general atmosphere. If so, we can catch up on more sensitive issues, if not, we will go on as usual.”
”On Afghanistan, it’s undoubtedly substantial progress for Russia to allow the United States to over-fly its territories and to send munitions, it is certainly progress and clearly an act of goodwill, although obviously Russia will benefit if the U.S. operations succeed.
”On START, the situation is trickier, it is very clear and unambiguous that Medvedev wants to link arms reduction and the missile defense issues.
”I don’t think we should expect a substantial improvement in overall relations, what we see is an unquestionable sea change in the tone and rhetoric. The two sides have different priorities and there are areas of strong dispute between the countries - a huge burden of distrust has built up over the previous years.
”Since Putin largely remains the top decision maker in Russia, he remains an embodiment of the sentiment that the United States repeatedly took advantage of Russian weakness during the post-communist era and there is no reason to trust them.
DARYL G. KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON
”On nuclear arms reductions, the two sides appear to be making good progress but there is far more to be done to conclude this agreement by the end of the year. We anticipate modest cuts in deployed warheads and modest cuts in bombers and other deployment vehicles, but it will be limited because there is limited time before START expires.
“Even as they move to wrap up these talks, they should begin to lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive deal covering all warheads, both strategic and tactical that brings them below 1,000 warheads each. That would provide serious momentum to reduce the nuclear threat to the world.”
Reporting by Conor Sweeney, additional reporting by Luke Baker in London, editing by Tim Pearce