"Moderate Detente"

According to an article in today’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta, President Dmitry Medvedev wants to introduce a policy of “moderate detente” in Russia’s relations with the West – especially with the United States.

The Kremlin does not intend to continue to escalate confrontation with the West in general and the U.S. in particular. In the near future a package of measures aimed at improving relations and the easing of tension in the dialogue between Russia and its key Western partners will be adopted. This is reported by several informed sources in the presidential administration and around it.

Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to move to a policy of “moderate detente” in relations with the West is influenced by several factors. These include the very moderate reaction by the United States of America, and especially the European Union, to Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Following the example recently set by Belarusian President Lukashenko, the “package of measures” is likely to include “the alleviation of the lot of a number of Russian citizens who in the West are considered to be political prisoners.” However, the paper notes, this leniency, if it is implemented, is unlikely to apply to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Also, “under no circumstances will Russia reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. and the deployment of military bases on the territory of these two new states”. The article speculates on the future of Russian FM Sergei Lavrov, whose recent run-in with Britain’s foreign secretary David Miliband drew attention to Lavrov’s harsh and uncompromising attitudes and personality.

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