"The goal of the reset was to not let our disagreements with Russia prevent us from working together on our shared interests," says Spencer Boyer, a national security adviser to the Obama campaign. "That has been a success."
For all his tough talk, it's not clear what Romney would change, especially considering the potential consequences. A rupture in relations with Russia could prevent a smooth exit from Afghanistan. A supply corridor that runs through Russia and Central Asia is one of only two possible routes for the millions of tons of military equipment that the U.S. needs to bring home. The other one runs through Pakistan, which once closed it after a NATO airstrike killed Pakistani soldiers.
Advisers say Romney would proceed with the Obama administration's missile defense plans if they are effective, while retaining the option to revert to the Bush administration plan. In a foreign policy speech this month, Romney said he wouldn't allow Putin any flexibility on missile defense, a jibe at Obama, who was caught on a microphone telling then-President Dmitry Medvedev last March that the U.S. would have more flexibility to work on missile defense issues after the election.
Romney's campaign website says he would review the New Start treaty. When asked what that means, Wong said that Romney will review everything when he gets into office.
It's not unusual for presidential candidates to talk tough about an adversary during a campaign only to become more pragmatic in office. In fact, Putin stoked anti-American sentiments in his presidential campaign. Yet one of his first moves was to approve a transit facility for NATO at a Russian airbase.
Still, Romney's blunt talk has been noticed in Moscow. Putin said in a TV interview last month that it justified his opposition to U.S. missile defense plans, which he says could undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent.
But he also said he could work with Romney.
"We'll work with whichever president is elected by the American people," Putin said. "But our effort will be only as efficient as our partners will want it to be."
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