Sure, some of the show of good will between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, was glad-handing for the cameras, and that whole missile-shield issue was swept under the rug for the time being, but some actual progress was made during their summit in Moscow on Monday.
On the most immediate challenge, working out an arms control agreement to replace the START I treaty which expires December 5, the two presidents signed a joint understanding for a follow-on agreement to START that commits both parties to a legally binding treaty that will reduce nuclear weapons. Video Watch Obama discuss arms control pact »
The joint understanding commits the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500 to 1,100. Under the expiring START and the Moscow treaties the maximum allowable levels of warheads is 2,200 and the maximum allowable level of launch vehicles is 1,600.
Russia has insisted on linking the arms control agreement to the controversial issue of a proposed U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The presidents dealt separately with that issue, instructing their experts to work together to carry out a joint threat assessment, analyze ballistic missile threats in the world and prepare appropriate recommendations.
They also announced plans to conduct a joint review on possible cooperation to monitor the development of missile programs around the world. Obama said the two leaders are discussing holding a global nuclear summit next year.
AP photo / RIA-Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama on his arrival at the Kremlin on Monday.