The US and Russia may have agreed a tentative roadmap for nuclear disarmament, but real obstacles remain between the two superpowers as their summit progresses in Moscow.
The two countries also agreed to resume military co-operation, suspended in the wake of Russia’s conflict with Georgia last summer. But Obama, despite wanting to “reset” Russian-American relations, remained firm on the subject of Georgian sovereignty: “As President Medvedev indicated, we have had some frank discussions in areas where we still disagree. For instance, we had a frank discussion on Georgia, and I re-iterated my firm belief that Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected. If even as we work through our disagreements on Georgia’s borders, we do agree that no one has an interest in renewed military conflict,” he said. Meanwhile, Medvedev made it clear that the new nuclear plan may not see the light of day if the US did not modify its plans to site a missile shield in Eastern Europe: “No one is saying that missile defence is harmful in itself, or that it poses a threat to people. The question is to peg this or that configuration of missile defence to interests of other countries. And what I would like to highlight is that our American partners, in contrast with what was happening in the past years, have taken a pause and are studying the situation and based on this will formulate their final response.” Obama responded by saying a review of the missile system would be finished by the end of the summer. Russia also agreed to allow the US 4,500 flights a year across its airspace, carrying troops and supplies to Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether Obama gets the same overtures from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with whom he has a breakfast meeting today.