Foreign Affairs Policy of Russia and America

By Political commentator Andrei Fedyashin

MOSCOW, Dec. 25 (PNA/RIA Novosti) — The U.S.-Russian reset policy was certainly beefed up by the Senate’s ratification of the New START treaty on December 22. But does this injection of anabolic steroids actually serve to undermine it or to help it bulk up? This second outcome is by no means a done deal.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in the Czech capital Prague last April and agreed that their respective parliaments would strive for simultaneous ratification. However, the Republicans were so obstructive that the process drew on virtually until Christmas, with the treaty finally ratified only during Congress’ notorious “lame duck” session.

Had the departing Democrat-controlled Congress failed to ratify it, the process could have continued ad infinitum, because the next Congress, slated to meet on January 3, 2011, will only contain a handful of Democrats, and ratification needs at least two thirds of the vote.

The numerous problems plaguing its ratification have already been described in considerable detail. But the most interesting question is how often this sort of thing will happen and what documents will be similarly affected? Is Obama a reliable business partner?

Russia and the rest of Europe are desperate to see whether Obama and Congress have adjusted to each other and what one can expect from them. All reasonable statesmen in Europe backed New START because a logical next step would be U.S.-Russian talks on a tactical nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Tactical nuclear weapons are even more dangerous than their strategic counterparts because the temptation to use them is considerably stronger and in densely populated Europe there would be little difference between a 3-kiloton nuclear explosion and a 100-kiloton one.

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