U.S.-Russia: Reset to What?

NATO just resumed high-level contacts with Russia, perhaps the first concrete result of the Obama administration’s “reset.” James Joyner surveys the terrain looking for just what has changed to warrant the the conciliatory tone and comes up empty:

Last I checked, Russian troops were still occupyingSouth Ossetia and Abkhazia and looking to stay there for the longhual. Scheffer’s still SecGen and Sarkozy, Merkel, and Brown stillhead up Europe’s Big 3. . . .

Well, almost empty:

The only significant new fact is that Barack Obama is now president of the United States. . . .
We shall see if this olive branch to Russia is rewarded in anymeaningful way. Thus far, Medvedev and Putin seem not to have budgedon any important point.

When I asked a Russian diplomat recently what Moscow might do to improve U.S.-Russia relations, he gave a prickly response to the effect that Russia had done everything the U.S. had asked of it since 9/11 and got the Rodney Dangerfield treatment in return. Truth is, it’s hard to deny the logic of that.

Unlike some of the other fronts on the Obama engagement campaign, whichwill begin with a question of price, the Russia rapprochement will begin a question of calendar: What date do relations get reset to? Only then will the real bargaining begin.

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