Russian political establishment is musing over what has and has not been accomplished at past week's summit. Colonel-General (Ret.) Leonid Ivashov, Vice-President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, spoke to daily "Vglyad," insisting that interpretations of what the parties called "breakthroughs" and "steps to compromise" will vary greatly for the Americans and Russians.
Ivashov stated that the signing of a Framework Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms agreement "... was better than we expected. We feared that in the framework agreement each side would be allowed only 1,000 warheads, which would not be beneficial for us. The accepted bilateral communiqué demonstrates that a compromise was found between the administration of the Russian President, government and military community, with all sides is realizing that we must not achieve rock-bottom in numbers of armaments when it comes to these agreements."
On the allowed transit of American military transports bound for Afghanistan, Ivashov stated that: "... for us, this agreement is the continuation of previously chosen policy. After the tragedy of September 11, and under the emotional perception of attacks on the Twin Towers, we succumbed to the temptation to help America and accepted the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. And today, we are still tied to this commitment. As for how we will be affected as the country of transit of American goods, depends only on us - or under what conditions we will sign this agreement. In addition, this kind of an agreement must be followed by reciprocal steps. We provide the transit - so, Americans should limit the number of drugs that are entering Russia and CIS from northern Afghanistan, and to ensure that Taliban would not appear on the borders of our allies. Americans should also think about revising their attitudes towards Georgia. If we would be able to reach a number of such compromises, then for us, this Afghan transit issue will be very beneficial."
Asked whether Moscow shows solidarity to Washington on Pyongyang's and Tehran's nuclear programs by promising efforts to fight against nuclear proliferation and suppressing the activity of "nuclear" terrorists, Ivashov answered: "Thus-stated official language is an error of our foreign policy line -or maybe this is where we chose to compromise. The fact remains: neither Iran's nor North Korea's nuclear program is a threat to us. In both cases, these are bilateral conflicts. Iran conflicts with Israel, which has a capable nuclear capability. And North Korea is not satisfied with the presence of American nuclear weapons in South Korea. Its not worth it for us to intervene in these conflicts - they pose no threats to Russia. Moreover, both problems can be solved quite simply. Americans need to withdraw their tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea. And Israel should start the process of nuclear disarmament, or at least put its nuclear weapons under strict international control. After that, the problem of Pyongyang or Tehran will be off the table. And talking about the creation of a joint missile defense is absurd - we can put our money to better uses."
When asked what negotiating tactics work best with Americans, Ivashov remembered: "I sat a lot at the negotiating table with the Americans. And I can tell you: they do not react to any emotions, to any smiles. For them, there is only a factor of balance of forces and interests. When we created a new R-36M "Voevoda" missile, which they dubbed «Satan», Americans understood that they have nothing to oppose such a weapon. It could carry 24 warheads and 40 false targets. It was impossible to intercept. This missile was sufficient to cause a collapse of the United States and thus bring them to the negotiating table. When they see that we are quickly advancing in certain developments, they propose - let's stop and retreat to the original positions. So if we do not find solid arguments in politics or military strategy, the Americans will not negotiate with us on anything."
Russia is still working on entering the World Trade Organization, something that has been denied to it by the United States since the collapse of USSR in 1991. Currently, Russia is trying to create a Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Last month, Russia proposed that all three countries enter WTO as a block, but the idea faced massive criticism overseas and in Russia proper. Recently, President Dmitry Medvedev said that it was "more realistic" for Russia to seek WTO entry on its own. He added that Russia will discuss entry conditions with Belarus and Kazakh representatives of the Customs Union: "It is possible, by agreeing on some common standards and positions within the Customs Union troika, to act unilaterally, which, in my opinion, is simpler and more realistic, but subject, of course, to certain the rights and interests of other parties."
Controversial Russian ambassador to Georgia has been reassigned as ambassador to neighboring Republic of Armenia. Vyacheslav Kovalenko represented Russian Federation in Georgia from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he held the post in Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs that dealt with former Soviet states.
Kovalenko's stay in Tbilisi was accompanied by a number of scandals related to Russia-Georgia conflict, as well as affected by his own actions. In September 2007, he was summoned to the Georgian Foreign Ministry for explanations in connection with his speech at a conference organized by the Foundation of Unity of Russian and Georgian Peoples. Back then, Russian Ambassador then reportedly stated: "You, the Georgians, are now only three million people, you have become a relic and an endangered people. Russia will be able to overcome its demographic difficulties, but you, Georgians, cannot not deal with this problem, you will vanish." Later, the Russian Embassy acknowledged that "this sentence was indeed pronounced," but that it has been allegedly "wrongly interpreted" by journalists and "taken out of context."
In September 2006, Kovalenko was recalled from Tbilisi, when Georgia detained several Russian servicemen on charges of espionage. The servicemen were later released, and the Russian side responded to their detention by winding down diplomatic contacts and launching economic sanctions against the republic, moreover, Russia also responded with an anti-Georgian campaign across the country Part of the sanctions were later lifted, and the Russian Ambassador returned to Tbilisi in February 2007.
Vyacheslav Kovalenko finally left Georgia in September 2008, after the Russian-Georgian war that was followed by official severance of diplomatic relations between two countries. Russian Embassy in Tbilisi and Georgian Embassy in Moscow are not currently working, and consular functions for the citizens of both countries are done the Russian and Georgian sections in the Embassies of Switzerland.