Ian Bremmer, author and founder of Eurasia Group, has always been pretty good at delivering the “view from 10,000 feet” type of stuff, and his latest on Russia in Foreign Policy keeps it up. Medvedev’s recent friendly relations with Obama and embrace of the reset policy is guided by three things, argues Bremmer: 1) they are feeling more economically secure, 2) they are feeling more comfortable in the neighborhood, and 3) they see the need to diversify away from the resource economy.
Out of these three reasons, I think #3 is the most convincing – the smart play right now is to do everything possible to bring investment in. As for #1, weren’t some of the worst periods in the relationship when the Russian economy was booming with growth? And secondly, there is some logic about the results I am not following:
Beyond a warming in the rhetoric between Washington and Moscow, can we expect tangible benefits from improving relations? On the political side, we’re already seeing some. Now that the issue of U.S. missile defense in Eastern Europe has dropped from the headlines, Russia is one of a very few countries now taking a more supportive position on the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan. Bilateral arms control discussions are picking up steam. Moscow has taken a tougher line of late on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
What does this active position on Afghanistan consist of? Accusing the United States of conducting a narco-terrorism campaign against Russia? Or just continuing to edge them out of the Transit Center of Manas in Kyrgyzstan, or at least have Gazprom control the fuel supply? Evidence of these political benefits is rather scarce … business benefits, however, are a whole other question.