A somewhat delayed deal has been struck between the United States and Russia to set new targets for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or START. There were fears that the two sides might not be able to reach an accord, and while agreement in principle has been reached – it still needs to be ratified, and there are plenty of opportunities for partisan politics to get in the way and delay ratification. For example, the Republicans may be unwilling to give Obama a foreign policy success ahead of crucial mid-term elections.
Much of the talk from Moscow and Washington before, during and now, post-talks sounded more like Cold War rhetoric and not the kind of language you would expect between two countries trying to improve relations. Russian political affairs analyst Alexander Pikayev put it bluntly - "We are not friends."
He and Zhai Dequan (翟德泉) Deputy Secretary-general, China Arms Control and Disarmament Association agree the missile defence shield proposed by the Americans (and the issue that threatened to derail the talks) probably has less to do with providing a defence against rogue missiles from Iran or North Korea - and more about a long term strategy to maintain an American military presence in Eastern Europe to contain Russia.