Obama’s Moscow Challenge

Barack Obama’s much-anticipated first trip to Moscow is approaching, but will the new President’s peacemaking endeavours be as effective on the Kremlin as they has been in other contexts?  As Russia welcomes Iranian President Ahmadinejad to the SCO summit, leaving blazing protests and threats of a recount in Tehran, are American hopes of the Kremlin leaning upon the nuclear state dwindling?  The New York Times posits some interesting reflections upon the US President’s first foreign trip to ‘adversarial territory’.

The Russian leadership that Mr. Obama will meet, according to Lilia Shevtsova, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a think tank, is representative of “a system based on an official mechanism of anti-Americanism’.

As supplier of Iran’s nuclear wherewithal, Russia can make a difference by acting to halt its drive toward a nuclear weapon.

But what’s the point for Russia of delivering the United States from the grief of having to confront the mullahs, when the American anti-missile shield, which Moscow doesn’t like, may fall on its own? That could come without trade-offs if Mr. Obama distances himself from this Bush administration idea, or Poland or the Czech Republic bails out from deployment of its interceptors and radar.

Andrei Illarionov, a former Putin economics adviser and now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute here, told me that he had spent considerable time trying to explain to people in the United States that “help from the Russian leadership on Iran is just impossible. It’s such a naïve idea.”