Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he is “prudently optimistic” ahead of tonight’s first meeting with the new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The couple will have a working dinner during which no major decisions are expected, but over which hangs immense anticipation. Clinton has been sounding conciliatory, speaking of opening a new chapter in relations, while facing up to changing circumstances; “And we’ve made the case to Russia time and again, that Europe has a right to defend itself from the new threats of the 21st century. We happen to believe in the United States that those threats are more likely to come from regimes and terrorist networks than from nation states in the immediate vicinity.” Relations soured during the Bush years, hitting rock bottom in the Georgia war last summer when the US tried to isolate Russia diplomatically. East European anti-missile detection and defence was also a serious sticking point, and while it sounds like the Obama administration still wants the system, it also wants willing Russian involvement.