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29 juil. 2007

Russia, Medvedev, Obama

In his Berlin speech, Barack Obama talked about cooperation with Russia. He fingerpointed the Cold War mentality and spirit that still pervades US-Russia relationships.

A few weeks before Obama's visit, the new Russian President exposed in Berlin his vision of a new, post-NATO security framework in Europe where Russia would be a full player. I mention about the same idea in my book "After Bush" to be published in France in September, because I strongly believe that NATO enlargement was a major mistake. Instead, the reinvention of an altogether new security and political architecture would have facilitated a new start with post-Soviet Russia. The possible argument that the Soviet, KGB legacy of Russia would somehow justify a silent Cold War after the Cold War, humiliating a weakened Russia, was non sense. Obviously, Russian leaders raised in the Soviet Union would not abandon their Soviet culture overnight but act in ways that would carry the legacy of the Soviet past eventhough the USSR was dead. This was all a strategic mistake, as the mistrust deeply engrained in relations between Russia and the West shows - tensions about Georgia, Ukraine, and missile defense illustrate that point too well.

So Russian leaders, including the youthful new President (same age as Obama), do aspire to reassert the role of Russia on the international stage, and as the US daily press says today, to adjust the post-Cold War security and political arrangements, now that oil windfalls give them so more muscle.

The responsibility is largely shared, although the prime guilt always belong to the winner - the West. The Monitor puts is very well : "today's growing rift between Moscow and the West is not based on irreconcilable ideological or geopolitical hostility. The main problem, they say, stems from the West's failure to work with Russia to re-imagine global security architecture following the USSR's collapse".

Shall one hope therefore that a President Obama and his Russian counterpart will succeed in creating a new dynamic in Russian-US relations ? Obama certainly is in a better position that John McCain on that major foreign policy issue.

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