“Lay down your weapons”

Earlier today we learned that president Obama has been in negotiations with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on reducing our nuclear capabilty. As I questioned his timing the Moscow Times reports that the START I program is due to expire this December. “START (for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.”

Wikipedia reports that “today, the United States has 3,696 and Russia has 4,237 deployed strategic warheads. The US has roughly 10,000 total warheads, counting strategic and tactical, both deployed and in reserves. The figures for Russia are less reliable, but are considered to be in the range of 15,000 to 17,000 total warheads.”
In his report Moscow Times reporter Anatoly Medetsky writes:

U.S. President Barack Obama offered praise for President Dmitry Medvedev and took a dig at Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the eve of his visit to Moscow — and the Russian government said it was still eagerly rolling out the red carpet.
Unlike recent years when any U.S. criticism, perceived or otherwise, was met with a harsh Russian response, Medvedev and Putin appeared eager to make sure that Obama’s visit achieves its stated goal of resetting relations between the two countries.
The White House said Sunday that Obama expected to announce a deal with Medvedev that could lead to a new nuclear arms reduction treaty by the year’s end.
The Kremlin said during the three-day visit, which starts Monday, an agreement would be signed to allow the United States to transport military equipment over Russian territory to Afghanistan.
A last-minute flurry, meanwhile, surrounded plans for Obama and Medvedev to attend a business conference, with organizers making an 11th-hour change of venue.
Obama lavished praise on Medvedev in an interview broadcast on Rossia state television on Saturday night, describing him as “thoughtful” and “progressive.” Obama first met Medvedev at a Group of 20 summit in London in April.
“In my view, President Medvedev is a very thoughtful and progressive person,” Obama said in the interview, according to a Russian-language transcript posted on web site of Vesti-24 state television. “I believe he is ­successfully leading Russia into the 21st century.”
He took a more nuanced view on Putin.
“I haven’t met with Prime Minister Putin yet, but it’s obvious that he is a very strong leader of the Russian people,” Obama said.
On Thursday, Obama accused Putin of taking “Cold War approaches” to relations with the United States, in what some analysts said might be an attempt to pre-empt criticism at home before his trip that he was being soft on Russia.
“Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new,” Obama told The Associated Press.
Putin — known for his salty language — replied mildly on Friday that Russians couldn’t stand with their legs apart like that.
“We don’t know how to stand so uncomfortably,” Putin said in response to a question from a reporter on a farming-related trip.
“We stand firmly on our feet and always look into the future,” Putin said. “This is a special quality of Russia. This is what always let Russia move ahead and get stronger.
“As for the visit, we are waiting for it with very warm feelings and are saying to the president of the United States, ‘Welcome.’”
Putin is scheduled to have breakfast with Obama on Tuesday. At the meeting, he will lay out his views on Russian-U.S. relations, drawing on his previous experience as president and “brilliant knowledge of the subject,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Ekho Moskvy radio Friday.
Gary Samore, Obama’s top adviser on arms control, said the U.S. president and Medvedev were expected to announce an agreement Monday on a follow-up treaty to START I, which expires in December.
Samore, who spoke to reporters in Moscow on Sunday evening, would not give specifics about the agreement.

In a last-minute change of plans for the visit, Medvedev and Obama will deliver their speeches to an assembly of Russian and U.S. business leaders at the Manezh congress and exhibition center rather than the originally planned Ritz Carlton Hotel.
It remained unclear Sunday exactly what caused the organizers to move the event, which is scheduled to gather about 30 top executives from companies such as Renova, LUKoil, Basel and VEB as well as Boeing, ExxonMobil, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola as well as up to 700 other business representatives.

A Kremlin spokeswoman said Sunday that she was unaware of the circumstances behind the change in venues. A spokeswoman for the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, or RSPP, which is a co-organizer of the event, referred questions to the Kremlin and U.S. officials. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.
Medvedev and Obama will stop by the business conference for a half an hour toward its end to give speeches and listen to a short summary about what the governments can do to facilitate more investment and trade between the countries. Somers, RSPP president Alexander Shokhin and one chief executive on each side — who will represent all attending business leaders — will have a total of 10 minutes to brief the presidents on the conference results, Somers said.
“We take it as a great opportunity, because businesses are communicating directly and publicly to both presidents right at the end of a three-hour meeting on business issues,” he said.

It was unclear Sunday where Obama and his wife would stay. The president will choose between the Ritz Carlton, the Marriott Grand or a guest residence in the Kremlin, Interfax reported, without identifying its sources. Former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton stayed at the Marriott. The Ritz Carlton opened later and offers a view of the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral across the road.
Gilbert comment. Having stayed at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, located opposite the Bolshoi Theater and a five minute walk from Red Square and the Kremlin, I might suggest living on the edge as we did. Rumor had it that this hotel was targeted by the US during the cold war.
Following is the URL for the full Moscow Times report.


Note: We need to be very cautious when it comes to disarming ourselves. Russia is not the only country with a nuclear capability. Further, what if there is a regime change in Russia with a different attitude on these weapons of mass destruction.

About Larry Gilbert