(3)Obama will be friendly with Russia but drive a hard bargain. Obama goes to Moscow for a full-scale summit in July. After their mini-summit last week in London, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called Obama "my new comrade." But, while Obama is part of the NATO consensus freezing the old Bush/Cheney plan to extend NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, he isn't giving way on the anti-missile shield -- supposedly aimed at Iran but strongly suspected in Moscow of being an attempted check on Russia's nuclear capability -- in Poland and the Czech Republic, even though the program is unpopular there. The US wants more help with Afghanistan and Iran, but has cards to play to drive a harder bargain than some think.
Russia is a great power again, but not a superpower. And its economic problems with the fall in the price of oil and other commodities makes any efforts to become a superpower again highly problematic. Obama and his advisors know this. And while they seem sympathetic to Russia's concerns about past efforts to encroach on Russia's "near abroad" through NATO expansion right up to the Russian border, they don't seem willing to let, say, Poland slip back under Moscow's umbrella.
Don't count on it...
With all of the effort the New York Times put in its article, there are two points.
Some European nations, like Poland and other former members of the Soviet bloc, think Moscow, having digested parts of Georgia, is simply trying a traditional game of playing European countries against one another and dividing Europe from Washington, while some countries, like France, Germany and Italy, think that Russia’s ideas should be explored.
But the Russians have recently proposed two substantive topics to discuss in the council, a senior European official said. The first, Georgia, was rejected by NATO, but the second, Afghanistan, is promising, the official said. Already, Moscow has agreed to let Germany resupply its NATO troops in Afghanistan by rail through Russia.
The question should be asked, what did Germany give Russia in exchange for troop supplies for some 3,000 troops being moved through Russia?
Could it be the Nord Stream pipeline?
The Nord Stream, majority owned by Russian gas monopoly Gazprom , is building the pipeline with Germany's BASF and E.ON and has plans to build two parallel gas pipelines of 750 miles (1,200 km) each. Dutch state pipeline operator Gasunie has joined the project, taking a 9 percent stake from the German partners.
The reality is Russia and Germany are linked by Germany's need for energy.
Washington had counted on the change in German leadership as being a good thing for slowing down the emerging Russian-German energy (and political) axis. There were expectations in Washington that Merkel would put the brake on Germany's cooperation with Russia. The Bush administration passionately wooed Merkel toward this end as soon as she rose to power in Berlin.
But Washington is realizing that instead of wasting time and resources on debatable issues such as Putin's democratic instincts, Merkel's policy seems to be increasingly guided by realistic considerations of Germany's medium- and long-term economic interest in consolidating a reliable partnership with Russia. This leaves Washington in the inelegant company of the pack of "New Europeans" from East Europe and the Baltic region to keep the flag of anti-Russia animus flying within EU forums.
What the U.S. is dealt with is; having the challenge to build trade with the Baltics and parts of Eastern Europe. And right now, the Baltics are being ignored.
This idea from William Bradley from the Huffington Post, that Obama will be able to drive a hard bargain with Russia is insane.
And when you consider Obama is looking to the Stans for cooperation on troop supply movements, one should ask, what drives their economy?
The United States is the biggest foreign investor in Kazakhstan, Central Asia's biggest oil producer, thanks to energy majors such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil developing large Kazakh oil fields.
Isn't it ironic that Obama goes out spreading the word on the evils of BIG OIL and then he is planning on going to a country who is dependent on BIG OIL and seeking their cooperation..
What bargaining chip does Obama think he will use? Will he try the Gazprom method of bargaining?
Turkmenistan accuses Gazprom of causing pipeline explosion
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan blamed Russia's state natural gas monopoly Friday for a pipeline blast that shut off shipments to Russia — an unusual show of tension that could help Western efforts to buy Turkmen gas directly.
Gazprom’s delegation visits Republic of Kazakhstan
Looks like Putin aka Gazprom is beating Obama on the visit to Kazakhstan.
Who will be successful in doing some hard bargaining there? Obama or Putin....
And to think everything was rosy between Obama and Medvedev at the G20 meeting while this was being stated on Russian T.V.
Russian TV says U.S. spying at Kyrgyzstan air base
Russian state television accused the United States on Friday of using its only remaining air base in Central Asia as cover for a large-scale spying operation.
Rossiya television released a clip of a documentary to be aired on Sunday which it said shows how the United States ran intelligence operations from the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan, used for supplying foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan told Washington in February to close the air base after it secured a $2 billion economic aid package from Russia, a setback for the United States as it seeks new supply routes.
Even with the previous events, you have policy wonks writing in the Washington Times on the Obama team and what they should do.
The Obama team should make a visit to Kazakhstan a priority to institutionalize cooperation. But Russia can and must be part of a regional effort. Afghanistan's porous borders enable organized crime, terrorist cells and drug trafficking across Russia's vast expanse. Russian troops in Tajikistan are literally on the front line of this struggle. In President Obama's efforts to find common ground with Moscow, border security should top the list.
What will be the price the U.S. will have to spend to get Putin's cooperation and who will really be driving the hard bargain?
It's guaranteed, it won't be the U.S. under the Obama administration.