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RIA Novosti
April 3, 2009
Russia's gains from the London summit

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Dmitry Babich) - Russia's gains from the G20 summit in London can be estimated in billions of dollars in signed agreements and verbal accords.

First, the agreement with the Untied States to negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty, forged during a meeting between the Russian and U.S. presidents on April, will cut Russia's expenses.

Contrary to common belief, Russia needs to cut its weapons because its military finds it extremely difficult to maintain the nuclear arsenal they inherited from the Soviet Union. At the same time, the United States can easily maintain its nuclear capability and can also increase it.

This is why Russia needs to sign a new START treaty to replace the first one, which was signed in 1991 and will expire in December 2009. The two presidents said they had instructed their expert groups to draft concrete proposals by July, when Obama is expected to arrive on his first official visit to Moscow.

If the new treaty stipulates cuts in the number of nuclear warheads below the 1,700-2,200 level sealed in START-1, this will be good news for Russia.

After the Medvedev-Obama talks in London, analysts said that the number of warheads could be cut to 1,500, and that the new treaty would also stipulate cuts in delivery vehicles, which will also suit Russia.

Second, the two presidents agreed that talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization would be continued, which means that Russia will be definitely admitted to the global trade club. Russia has spent billions of rubles on adjusting its standards to WTO recommendations.

The United States has been the main opponent of Russia's WTO accession, even though it has never said so openly.

Ukraine joined the organization in January 2008, with the assistance of President George W. Bush. Many analysts saw that decision as Bush's intention to punish Russia by openly lobbying for the interests of its potential opponent in trade disputes.

Officially, any WTO member may block the accession of a candidate country.

But now we can hope that Washington will buttress its positive intention regarding Russia's accession to the WTO with concrete deeds.

Third, the results of the summit may increase levels of trust between Russia and its foreign partners, which is worth a lot. Russia acted constructively at the summit, avoiding unnecessary disputes and refusing to be drawn into the summit's main conflict between the U.S. and Britain, which insisted that more money should be injected into the global economy, and France and Germany, which advocated tougher regulation for the banking sector.

Russia's proposal to create a new reserve currency, supported by China, although not discussed at the summit, clearly had a positive effect on public relations.

A situation has recently developed in which the U.S. relied on the dollar supremacy to act as both the main regulator of and the key player in the global financial markets. This situation is fraught with risks and corruption, as the temptation to play into one's own hands is almost irresistible.

A way out of this dead end will not be found soon, because any change in the system entails financial losses for the U.S. However, the international community will continue its search. China does not want to be the United States' main creditor obliged to patch the $2 trillion hole in the U.S. budget, which Obama's injections into the real sector will create.