Russian relations improving?

Next to talk of Iran, Cuba, and Somalian pirates, Russia seems far away. But the U.S.’s former sworn enemy is a key player in international relations, and the new administration has to decide how closely it wants to work with Moscow. A foreign policy report by Stefan Wagstyl of the Financial Times examines the state of Russo-American relations.

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed on reducing stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and Obama is no longer pushing the Bush administration’s plan for a missile defense shield that would have surrounded Russia. This plan typified the icy relations between Russia and the U.S. under Bush.

But both sides have fundamental disagreements about Russia’s place in the world. Russia stakes a claim to a sphere of influence over its former Soviet satellite states, a claim that the U.S. and E.U. do not honor. Furthermore, Russia wants to prevent the eastward expansion of NATO.

Though the U.S. and E.U. won’t acknowledge Russia’s influence in Central Asia, Moscow did convince Kyrgyzstan to close down its U.S. Air Force, a base that the U.S. needed to wage war in Afghanistan.

Two questions:

  1. Would Russia be willing to give the U.S. some sort of logistical support in and around Afghanistan?
  2. What is the U.S. willing to concede to Russia in order to win this support?

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