Today should in theory be a positive day in U.S.-Russia relations with the signing of the START replacement treaty in Prague, slashing 30% of each country’s nuclear arsenal establishing verification procedures. That certainly seems to be the agreed upon script: Barack Obama has hailed the treaty as a sign that U.S.-Russia relations are on the mend, while Dmitry Medvedev was also effusive: “I believe that this is a typical feature of our cooperation. Both parties have won. And taking into account this victory of ours, the entire world community has won.“
Reuters has even quoted Russia’s “top foreign policy adviser” (I have no idea who they are referring to) as remarking that the signing of the treaty is “a huge event that will have an extremely profound and positive effect on the way our countries deal with many other issues.“
Then the bloody unrest causing the vacuum of power in Kyrgyzstan had to go and ruin it all, drawing some unnamed officials at the sunny Prague ceremony to stray from the script:
Speaking in Prague hours after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama signed a treaty there cutting their nuclear arsenals, a senior Russian official indicated the U.S. base at Manas should close.
“In Kyrgyzstan there should be only one base — Russian,” the official told reporters in Prague on condition of anonymity.
Right, back to the old story. And with the interim leader of the country gushing with gratitude to Vladimir Putin (why was he, and not the President, the one to move?) and planning their first diplomatic trips to Russia to collect aid, the issue of Manas is not going to go away any time soon.