RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 7, 2009

PH2009070601642.jpgTODAY: US and Russia will cut nuclear stockpiles by a third; Obama says possibility of ‘extraordinary progress’ at summit; no conclusion on missile defense; despite previous barbed comments, Putin-Obama meeting warm; Russian press quiet on the visit

President Obama and President Medvedev have agreed on a reduction of both countries’ nuclear arsenals from 2,200 to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads and from 1,600 to between 500 and 1,100 delivery vehicles, to be accomplished within seven years.  To see a video of the press conference, look here.   No conclusion has been met on missile defense which Obama recognizes as point of ‘sensitivity to the Russian Government’, and is under review by US experts.  On Afghanistan, the two countries have agreed to allow transit by air and land.  On the thorny issue of Georgia, Obama has referred to his ‘firm belief that Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected’.  Agreement was met on opposing nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, and on the revival of a joint commission on accounting for missing servicemen.  The Moscow Times has an overview of the main deals.

Today’s meeting with Vladimir Putin saw Obama praise the tandem leadership as working ‘very effectively’, and calling the meeting ‘an excellent opportunity to put US-Russian relations on a strong footing’ reports the Independent.   On the Putin/Medvedev partnership, Obama did not venture a comment on the ‘real boss’, but did make an inadvertent reference to ‘President Putin’.   An overview of analysts’ comments is in Reuters.

The Guardian reports on how little attention Russian media have paid to the landmark visit with a soccer match top of the TV schedules.  The Other Russia has excerpts from the Russian press.  RFE/RL relates Boris Nemtsov’s feelings about the summit, in advance of Obama’s meeting with opposition leaders who fear they may not be at liberty to discuss politically sensitive’ topics.  The Solidarity founder has written an article in the Wall Street Journal.  RFE/RL takes Obama’s visit as an opportunity to interview prominent Russians of African descent.

During its EU presidency, Sweden has pledged that Russian accession to the WTO will be a priority‘His relationship with Russia is very badsay some analysts of Carl Bildt, the new EU Foreign Policy chief, whocompared Russian tactics in Georgia to Nazi advances before WW2. Medvedev has pardoned 16prison inmates, bringing the total of pardons he has made this year to28.  To read a article by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the manyunpardoned, on judicial reform, look here.

PHOTO:Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obamashake hands at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, July 6, 2009.  (APPhoto/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)