A Lost Opportunity at the Lobster Summit
With relations still tense, the U.S. now looks for a softer Russian line on Iran and other disputes
The rhetoric, at times, has echoed the language of the Cold War. Rose Gottemoeller, director of the Moscow Center at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, compares the past few months to "roller coaster cars at the bottom of the ride." The tensions, until recently, have risen to "this drumbeat of the enemy image" emanating from Moscow, she said.
Moscow's growing assertiveness reflects a booming oil-based economy and broad domestic support for Putin's efforts to revitalize Russian influence abroad. Signs of whether the summit will ease tensions could come quickly, if Russia moves closer to the U.S. position on Iran or Kosovo. At the same time, the Russians are now waiting to see whether Bush will be willing to alter his missile defenses to reflect Putin's offer.
"One thing I've found about Vladimir Putin," Bush said, "is that he is consistent, transparent, honest, and is an easy man to discuss, you know, our opportunities and problems with. You don't have to guess about his opinions."
The question is whether that transparency will bridge the disputesor just illuminate them.
THE MAJOR DIVIDING LINES
Ballistic missile defense: Bush wants facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland to shoot down any missiles from the Middle East, particularly Iran. Putin sees the plan as provocative to Russia.
Iran: Washington wants heavier sanctions and more political pressure on nuclear programs. Moscow is skeptical and seems willing to let Iran enrich uranium.
Russian democracy: U.S. officials say there isn't enough of it. Putin says there is and that Russia's internal affairs are none of Washington's concern.
Kosovo: The United States supports independence for the breakaway Serbian republic. Russia opposes it.