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JRL #5560:

US State Department
International Information Programs
Office of Research
Issue Focus
Foreign Media Reaction
November 21, 2001


From Moscow and other capitals, last week's Bush-Putin summit was seen as lending a public gloss to warming U.S.-Russian ties. The majority of commentators, including many in Russian media circles, pronounced the Crawford meeting a "success," and were hopeful that it would "open the door to a new relationship." While the Bush-Putin rapport was in evidence at their earlier meetings in Ljubljana and Genoa, many attributed to September 11th the rapid and welcome evolution from "rivalry to partnership." Some in Russia and Europe looked past the "backslapping and bonhomie," and credited Putin's "deft" realpolitik with turning "America's need for partners" in the anti-terrorism campaign to his advantage. In so doing, they asserted, he has restored Russia's status as a "player on the global political stage" and, even more significantly, solidly aligned his country with the "Western community." Both sides' agreeing to make deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals drew praise outside Russia, although a few writers were disappointed at the lack of "concrete" results, citing unresolved differences over ABM and the lack of a written accord on arms cuts. Russian media highlights follow:

'Less Of An Enemy, More Of A Friend': Much of the media coverage accentuated the positive, focusing more on improved U.S.-Russian ties than on continuing "mutual grievances" over ABM and other security issues. Several non-official and official dailies trumpeted a spirit of "cooperation" and "partnership." Indeed, summit assessments reinforced the general tenor of post-Sept. 11 mainstream commentary, which had lauded the Kremlin's casting its lot with the West and "proving itself as a friend and ally." Nevertheless, a number of analysts were quick to note that moving from "distrust to partnership" is a "hard job." A few predicted Putin's efforts at rapprochement would meet "opposition at home," including among the "Russian political and military establishment."

'Handshake Not Enough': Opinion ranged on the promised arms cuts--while reformist Noviye Izvestiya judged them "good for Russia's security," an opposition paper held that Putin had made "major concessions." Others downplayed the arms reduction pledges, with commentators for government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta echoing official views that any "verbal commitment" should be backed up in writing. Centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda, however, advised against hewing to "old standards," arguing that "grueling talks, endless 'consultations' and the diplomacy of mistrust and suspicion" do not jive with the new climate of "greater trust" between Moscow and Washington.

'ABM Only Major Stumbling Block': Even prior to Sept. 11, commentators had favored Putin's "pragmatic" approach on missile defense, preferring he seek "dialogue" rather than "useless confrontation" with the U.S. While some had hoped for a "compromise" deal on ABM, the lack of an "historic breakthrough" did not disappoint most. Reformist Izvestiya held that post-Crawford goodwill could yet provide "a major impulse" to resolving the ABM dispute.

EDITOR: Katherine L. Starr

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 71 reports from 27 countries, November 14-21. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.


RUSSIA: "NATO, Russia To Become Allies"

Vitaliy Portnikov surmised in reformist, business-oriented Vedomosti (11/21): "There is no avoiding Russia and NATO changing their relationship in a cardinal way, if only because this country's top leadership, formally and informally, is getting rid of notions such as an inevitable confrontation with the United States, a probable enemy, and the danger of NATO's enlargement. Many members of the Russian political and military establishment may still feel comfortable telling stories about 'the main enemy.' But either they will have to dump their obsolete ideas or the Russians will have to say good-bye to many of their political and military leaders. Of course, Russia won't join NATO tomorrow or the day after. But that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter now whether Russia will be admitted to NATO or whether it will sign new agreements on cooperation with the Alliance. What matters is that NATO and Russia are going to stop being rivals. Instead, they are going to become allies in ensuring security and, ultimately, the survival of our civilization."

"Partnership Is A Hard Job"

Sergey Oznobishchev, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote in official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/20): "Before Moscow and Washington stop seeing one another as potential enemies or 'geopolitical rivals,' the leaders of our countries will have to overcome opposition at home. Today it is the topmost priority. Otherwise, any attempts at partnership will run into covert and overt sabotage from the bureaucratic structures whose job it is to put bombast declarations into practice.... Not to talk partnership to death, our presidents must back their verbal commitment with a written one, and the more often they do so the better. They might start by signing a legally binding declaration on the principles of relations between Russia and the United States.... Changing from distrust to partnership fast is akin to a revolution. As shown by experience, revolutions are unpredictable for the most part. Russia and the United States would do better to go step-by-step to avoid emotions and mutual grievances, mindful of the fact that we are still at the beginning of a transition period."

"ABM Only Major Stumbling Block"

Aleksandr Kuranov commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/20): "The only major stumbling block between Putin and Bush is the ABM treaty, the cause of a brief thaw in Russo-American relations 29 years ago. Clearly, the Americans will sooner or later withdraw from it, keeping some of its least important provisions as a memento. It seems that politicians and the media in the West are beginning to realize that the Russian president is in earnest as he plays his foreign policy part."

"A Carrot For Putin"

Vasiliy Safronchuk remarked on Tony Blair's proposal to set up a new NATO-Russia council on page one of nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/20): "This idea came about not in...10 Downing Street but at the Bushes' ranch in Texas. It is a carrot of sorts for the Russian president who, dealing with the Americans, has made major concessions regarding Russia's security."


Vitaliy Gan commented in official parliamentary Parlamentskaya Gazeta (11/7): "Right from the start the summit became a landmark in Russo-American interaction. It both symbolized and added to the high positive quality of relations between Russia and the United States. There has been a sharp change in the tenor of their ties, never mind the problems that divide them. Washington appreciates Russia's stand on international terrorism, as well as its being located between Europe and Asia, a unique position from the standpoint of combating the maniacs. The Kremlin's reacting promptly to the terrorist attacks...has caused a little revolution, to say the least, on the Potomac.... It was a constructive meeting. Anyway, coming to the White House with a strictly orthodox, conservative agenda, Bush has clearly had to revise many of his ossified views."

"Less Of An Enemy, More Of A Friend"

Under this headline, reformist Noviye Izvestiya carried a comment by Yuriy Sigov in Washington (11/17): "The just ended official visit to the United States by the Russian president has not lived up to the expectations of skeptics on both sides who either predicted a 'limited success' or referred to the visitor's shady professional past. Vladimir Putin has put to shame all skeptics by endearing himself to the Americans. The secret of his great success is simple. A guest coming from far-off Russia, he acted in a way that is peculiarly American. Being sincere and open will win you the world. Putin has earned the trust of even the U.S. congressmen, perhaps the most conservative group of Americans. Many members of the 'Capitol Club' disliked Russia and Yeltsin's successor himself. It turns out that even hard core ill-wishers can reform.... Many important issues have remained unresolved. But given the will to cooperate shown by both presidents, the situation must change for the better pretty soon."

"A Fly In The Ointment"

Boris Volkonskiy remarked in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (11/17): "The events in Afghanistan couldn't have happened at a better time for both presidents. The triumphant blare of trumpets has somewhat silenced talk about differences between Russia and the United States in the defense area. A fly in the ointment, mentioned in many comments, is that the positions of the two countries have remained unchanged on issues such as ABM and NATO."

"Old Standards Don't Work Anymore"

Vadim Markushin commented on page one of centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda (11/16): "Grueling talks, endless 'consultations,' and the diplomacy of mistrust and suspicion are ineffective, as well as dull. All that, however, seemed justified in Cold War years because of ideological enmity and commitment to parity. Today, with Russia and the United States having a common enemy, old standards, including in the area of arms control, need to be reviewed. The change is good for Russia--it faces too many economic problems. At the same time, Russia's nuclear potential is enough to deter any threat of aggression. The president's statement that Russia is ready to slash its warheads to a third of their number is evidence of greater trust between Moscow and Washington and a balanced approach to how many strategic weapons this country really needs these days."

"Russia A Superpower Again"

Tatyana Malkina filed from Crawford for reformist Vremya Novostey (11/16): "It looks as if the two presidents of the superpowers--in the eyes of the Western community, Russia has made a comeback to regain its old status--have got together to discuss what to do next with the world they own. The two bears have finally decided to live peacefully in the same lair and help each other improve their common home."

"Putin, Bush Have No Ideological Differences"

Yelena Ovcharenko and Andrey Kabannikov contended in reformist, youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (11/16): "The two days spent with the Bush family at the Texan ranch have shown that there are no ideological differences between Putin and Bush."

"They Could Use More Trust"

Aleksandr Budberg remarked on page one of reformist, youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (11/16): "Despite the benign atmosphere and obvious rapprochement, you can feel that the talks are tough going, with the sides bargaining hard to secure their interests. Admittedly, they still don't trust each other 100 percent."

"Lack Of Progress"

Sergey Guly said in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (11/16): "As the two presidents talked in Washington and Texas, the warm personal relationship they had developed has been of little help in resolving the issue of the ABM treaty. The statement on the United States' planning to cut its strategic arms radically, timed for the summit, hasn't had the desired effect either. This means that the striking personal partnership between the two presidents is beginning to conflict with the strategic plans of the Republican administration."

"Handshake Is Not Enough"

Vitaliy Dymarskiy commented on page one of official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/15): "Starting in Europe, 'Putinmania' seems to have crossed the ocean to reach the Americans and our compatriots who are living and working in the United States.... This is all very well, but both Russia and the United States are democracies, and their presidents will not be in office forever. Relations between two nuclear powers in the area of strategic stability cannot be built for four or eight years, even less so on the basis of their leaders' personal likes (or dislikes) alone. Besides, a handshake, no matter how firm and friendly, does not lend itself to ratification by parliament. People in Washington must realize that."

"Russia Joins Western Community"

Sergey Chugayev wrote in reformist, youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (11/15): "The results of the Russian president's visit to the United States do not seem all too impressive. But then, nobody was expecting historic breakthroughs. What matters is that the joint statements that have been made attest to the mighty impetus the West and Russia have received these days as they have been moving ever closer together since the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and August of 1991. The West has actually recognized Russia as part and parcel of the (Western) community, as well as a partner. Russia, for its part, has made it clear that it is determined to give up vainly searching for a 'special path' and follow a well-trodden and time-honored road as a democracy and market economy."

"New Positions On Many Issues"

Svetlana Babayeva pointed out on page one of reformist Izvestiya (11/15): "There have been changes in positions on many issues, from Afghanistan to investments in Russia.... You wouldn't call the summit revolutionary. But it will give a major impulse to solving a host of issues that have been on the agenda for decades. Symbolically, Putin is the first foreign leader to visit the U.S. president's ranch in Texas. This is evidence that relations between the two leaders have really gone beyond formal protocol."

"White Noise"

Tatyana Malkina reported from Washington for reformist Vremya Novostey (11/15): "The content of all statements was known before the summit. Such statements might have surprised someone a couple of years ago. Today they sound like 'white noise.' The whole thing looks dull, but this, better than anything else, shows that the Cold War is really over."

"Accords Live Up To Expectations"

According to Artur Blinov of reformist Vremya MN (11/15): "Overall, the accords reached have lived up to expectations."

"Compromise On ABM Likely"

Vladimir Urban noted on page one of reformist Noviye Izvestiya (11/15): "The nuclear arms cuts promised by the U.S. president are good for Russia's security.... As for ABM, given the present state of relations between Russia and the United States, a compromise is most likely."

"Lack Of Rapprochement"

Sergey Guly argued in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (11/15): "While there is no problem with the declaration on combating terrorism, the documents on the basic issues of strategic stability, it seems, are designed merely to camouflage a lack of substantial rapprochement. As declared, the United States and Russia are not enemies anymore. But they have yet to learn to be friends."

"Dreaming About Russia"

Vitaliy Portnikov commented in reformist business-oriented Vedomosti (11/14): "Now Moscow and Washington have a common ideology.... Even so, with Russia, NATO's enlargement is a security risk rather than a feast of freedom; Iran is a strategic partner rather than a potential enemy of Western civilization; the Northern Alliance is a legitimate government rather than a coalition of ethnic minorities. But the idea behind Russian-American cooperation is that all those differences do not matter--you can list just as many examples of divergence between the United States and the EU or between the United States and Canada. The main thing is that the United States, EU, and Canada follow the same road of development, have common notions of a market economy and democracy, and share the same values. After 9/11, the West conceived the idea (dream?) that Russia is a country just like the United States, Germany or Britain. So the success of Putin's visit depends more on whether that notion holds than on whether he and his U.S. colleague come to terms on specific points of the agenda."

"Trip To Ranch Worth A Dozen Rounds Of Official Talks"

Andrey Kabannikov filed from Washington for reformist youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (11/14): "When George invited Vladimir to come see him in the Texan prairie for a glimpse of his private life, he meant to have their personal sympathy grow into a deep human relationship to help them get over political formalities in the future. As Putin strives to learn more about America and Americans, this trip to George's ranch is probably worth a dozen rounds of official talks."

BRITAIN: "Seeking The Beef At The Barbecue"

The independent Financial Times offered this lead editorial (11/19): "Vladimir Putin and George Bush want to be the best of friends. Of that there can be little doubt after their summit meetings and neighborly barbecue in Texas last week. But putting solid substance into the cheery style is a tougher proposition. Mr. Putin is not going to be a pushover. His military advisors remain suspicious of Washington and its allies. But he has cast his die for the West. It is up to Mr. Bush to respond. Going slow on missile defense is part of it. Another way is to bind Moscow more closely to NATO. A third way is to accelerate the membership process for Russia in the world economic system--and the [WTO] in particular. Tackling these questions will require close three-way collaboration between the U.S., Russia and the rest of Europe. Mr. Bush must counter the suspicion that he wants his European allies to embrace Russia more closely--and pay for it--to enable him to go ahead with missile defense at home. He must invite his partners to the barbecue, too."

A Touching Of Fingertips"

The independent weekly Economist observed (11/17): "The most striking result is that both sides have agreed to make deep cuts in their arsenals of nuclear warheads.... These reductions are significant, partly for the glow of goodwill that surrounds them, and partly for the way in which they were decided upon.... The other feature of this week's announcements is their curious mixture of unilateralism and cooperation. Bush said he was cutting America's stockpile regardless of anything Russia did.... Still, if this was unilateralism, it was a most unusual kind: cooperative unilateralism.... The parallel reductions have already broken a diplomatic stalemate. They also show a mixture similar to the 1950s in which negotiated agreements support unilateral moves.... The test of this new way of organizing the two sides' dealings is already under way: blurring the ABM Treaty so that America can test a [MD] system.... At Crawford, the two sides had hoped to reach an understanding pretending that the ABM Treaty does not limited the tests America wants to perform.... Still, an abrogation has at least for the moment been averted, and the two sides still seem willing to try to inch closer together. If a deal can eventually be reached, the administration will get its anti-missile tests, and the Russians will keep a ghost of an ABM Treaty.... Of course, Putin's decision to move closer to the West after September 11 is intended to get something in return. The missile cuts are one part.... And he will get help on the economic front too.... The Crawford summit was a complicated business. But it seems to open the door to a new relationship between Russia and America."

"Bush, Putin At Odds Over Missile Treaty"

In the centrist Independent, Washington correspondent Rupert Cornwell noted (11/16): "Despite three days of backslapping and bonhomie in Washington and Texas, the presidents...have failed to strike a deal on the future of the [ABM] Treaty.... [However,] the two leaders made clear they would not let disagreement over the ABM Treaty spoil a summit which has otherwise sealed a new rapprochement between Washington and Moscow--with promises by both countries to slash existing nuclear arsenals by up to two-thirds, and of unstinting Russian support for the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism."

"Putin Secures The Spoils Of War"

The centrist Independent declared (11/15): "High on the list of national leaders to emerge with credit from the catastrophic events of 11 September is Vladimir Putin. In managing simultaneously to support the United States, promote his country's interests and protect his own political back, the ex-KGB operative has proved a deft operator with a shrewd grasp of political realities. He is reaping his reward in America this week, where he is the first Russian (or Soviet) leader for many a year to meet his American counterpart on something like equal terms.... Among other tangible prizes, Mr. Putin has now won a public--and unilateral--commitment from a Republican president to slash the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He has also elicited an undertaking from the same president to try to get the Jackson-Vanneck amendment lifted.... It hardly matters whether Mr. Bush can fulfill these promises. Just placing them on the public record, while leaving the vexed question of missile defense open, allows Mr. Putin to return to Moscow in triumph.... Thanks to an economy that now registers the highest growth rate in Europe, Mr. Putin's domestic critics have been steadily falling away. His U.S. summit will thin their ranks still further."

"Putin Wins New Great Game"

Foreign editor Bronwen Maddox judged in the conservative Times (11/15): "President Putin could not have planned it better. He has the missile deal he wanted from Bush, and, in Afghanistan, he has backed the winning side, extending Russia's influence in the way his country has wanted for 150 years.... Putin has shown since September 11 a clarity that America's need for partners can be turned to his advantage.... Putin has seen Afghanistan transformed in just five days from a country hostile to him, still gloating over its success in driving out Soviet forces, to one in which his side has won an astonishing victory.... But Russia's backing counts for something, and will have bought it some influence over Afghanistan. That is just what Putin's forebears, playing the Great Game against Britain 150 years ago, sought to gain."

"A Kaleidoscope Moment"

The liberal Guardian opined (11/14): "The three-day summit...has the makings of a truly historic event, marking a possibly radical new departure for both countries.... Closely linked to this pact is a prospective compromise on U.S. plans for national missile defense.... Putin has softened his earlier opposition and hinted that he may agree to amend or tactily ignore the 1972 [ABM] Treaty.... In return, Mr. Bush will drop, for now at least, his threat to withdraw unilaterally from the ABM treaty and may offer a technology-sharing arrangement... There remain clear differences over how best to address these issues. The U.S. objects to Russian arms sales to Iran; Russia opposes U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq. And both sides offer conflicting definitions of terrorism: what for Mr. Bush are Chechen freedom-fighters are for Mr. Putin a despicable foe. But these concerns are easily outranked, for example, by Russia's importance to the U.S. as a counterweight to a strengthening China and its potential as a major, non-Opec oil supplier; and by the modernizing Mr. Putin's need to reduce Soviet-era debt, increase western investment, entrench market reforms, and obtain entry into the World Trade Organization.... But if Mr. Bush is serious about this root-and-branch new beginning, a bigger leap of faith, imagination and plain common sense is required. It is time to invite Russia to become a full member of NATO. More than a decade after the Soviet Union imploded, the alliance has still to find a convincing global role.... As Mr. Blair might say, events have shaken the kaleidoscope. Now what is needed is a clear vision."

FRANCE: "Barbecue And Country Music For Putin"

Pascal Riche judged in an article in left-of-center Liberation (11/16): "Despite the absence of any major breakthrough on MD, the Russo-American summit in Crawford is a spectacular diplomatic success, symbolizing the final burial of the Cold War. Since September 11, relations between Russia and the West have improved and anything seems possible today, including bringing Russia into NATO. The Russian president has understood that in the current state of crisis the time is now or never to secure the help of the United States."

"Bush, Putin Set Out To Win Each Others' Friendship"

Patrick Saint-Paul had this to say in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/16): "The emphasis was on folklore and friendship to hide the absence of any agreement on the MD question.... In order to seal their friendship, the two leaders nevertheless agreed to reduce their stock of nuclear warheads. This long-awaited reduction...would have been perceived as a major success if the shadow of the [MD] shield had not darkened the picture."

"The Tsar And The Cowboy"

Left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel Observateur contended (11/15-21): "The day after taking office, George W. Bush was so sure of the might of his country that he felt free to do anything. The attacks changed all of that and forced him to find allies and, especially, to listen to them. Meanwhile Putin, who needs America and Europe to bring Russia into the global economy, could not pass up such an occasion."

GERMANY: "Building Bridges"

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented on the front-page of right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/19): "If Russia continues to make progress with respect to civil rights and stops maintaining relations with 'rogue states,' the United States and its allies will investigate how much Russia should be part of NATO's decision-making process and whether there is a need for new institutional links. The Russia-NATO Council, this much seems clear, has not turned out to be very effective.... One argument against involving Russia too closely in NATO...is that it would change the character of NATO as a defensive alliance. In addition, Russian NATO membership would probably mean a shift in the alliance's power structure, reducing the influence of western European countries in favor of U.S.-Russian concerns.... The new bridges leading into Russia must stand on solid foundations. And the more solid the foundations, the more daring the architects [of security policy] can be."

"Tentative Relations"

Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich pointed out in an editorial (11/17): "There was no full agreement and unity at the end of the Bush-Putin meeting. Both sides kept underlining that much work remains to be done. Nevertheless, the meeting was a success. After all, Bush and Putin--who both ironically were derided in Europe after coming to power--have agreed to put relations between their two countries on a new foundation. If they succeed in doing so, all other disagreements begin to pale in comparison."


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/15): "Only a few months ago, forecasts on the future of disarmament policy were somber.... The advocates of doom were totally wrong when they declared the ABM Treaty a jewel of disarmament policy. The U.S. missile defense project is now turning into a lever for strategic disarmament. The agreement between Bush and Putin breaks the sterility of disarmament negotiations, but will also dramatically accelerate the reduction of strategic arsenals.... This does not mean that the dispute over the ABM Treaty is over, but Bush and Putin have now shown a way to it resolve it."

"On The Path To Partnership"

Jochen Siemens opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/15): "Following the September 11 attacks, President Putin resolutely seized the opportunity to recommend himself as a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism.... Putin is now expecting support for this country's accession to the WTO and closer relations with NATO. With confidence and a broadly-based partnership [supplanting] dogmatic fixation on treaties, the new terrorist threat is promoting alliances between countries who were opponents during the times of the Cold War."

"Russia's Return"

Michael Stuermer noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/15): "Up to September 11, Russia was nothing but a toppled global power and Putin the architect of a crumbling house.... Russia is no longer a superpower, but Putin and his followers are once again players on the global political stage.... The United States has caught a glimpse of hell and had to learn that old allies count and new ones are needed--and none more urgently than Russia."

"Once Controversial, ABM Treaty No Longer Plays Role"

Regional radio station Hessischer Rundfunk of Frankfurt aired the following commentary by P. Krueger (11/14): "The interests of both sides are obvious: Bush needs Russia for the multinational coalition that fights terrorism, while the Russian president needs good relations with the West...for a halfway stable situation at home. The willingness of the U.S. president to make a big leap forward on disarmament is based on his wish to get concessions from Putin concerning the U.S. [MD] project.... Differences of opinion remain, but the basic willingness for a partnership is obvious. That is why the ABM Treaty, which was very controversial a few months ago, will soon no longer play a role. Washington and Moscow will forge their anti-terror alliance, because they are dependent on each other. International crises always produce strange bedfellows."

ITALY: "A 'Nyet' Will Not Stop The New Axis"

Ugo Tramballi penned this analysis in leading, business Il Sole-24 Ore (11/16): "The new cooperation between the United States and Russia is so active and profound that it seems to be a new global political directorate.... In the (global) framework that suddenly changed after September 11, during which China also entered the WTO...and stands side by side with Russia in the U.S. struggle against terrorism, (and) exactly because the world is expanding eastward, Russia now seems to be closer...no longer a Euro-Asian empire, but more and more a Western country. This is the message that Vladimir Putin has taken to the United States."

"Bush, Putin Explain New Alliance To Students In Texas"

Washington correspondent Ennio Caretto remarked in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/16): "We were expecting a turning point, and we received a show instead: with Bush as the cowboy protagonist, and Putin--showing his unease, to tell the truth--as his co-star.... Instead of a compromise on the 1972 ABM Treaty...the two presidents announced another summit in Moscow and St. Petersburg.... And instead of an exchange-reduction of strategic warheads and missile defense systems, they offered the world their commitment to eliminate bin Laden and the Taliban. The summit has not achieved its objectives, but its protagonists have concealed that with jokes and an exchange of courtesies."

"Bush, Putin Divided Over 'Space Shield'"

New York correspondent Stefano Trincia commented in Rome's centrist Il Messaggero (11/15): "Nuclear warheads, the future of Afghanistan, NATO expansion eastwards, bio-terrorism.... Bush and Putin are discussing the fate of the world, Moscow-Washington relations, and the prospects of a new strategic accord in Texas. There seems to be full agreement on the situation in Afghanistan.... But the nuclear chess game is the issue that still dominates the talks on the second day of Putin's visit to the United States."

"America Launches The Reduction of Nuclear Arsenals"

Prominent commentator Franco Venturini in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera judged (11/14): "The news about ten thousand nuclear warheads fewer is good for all humanity. It is also a credible sign that points to a new strategic friendship between Russia and the United States. However...with regard to the rest (of the issues), the White House summit has not met several expectations... In fact, there has been no agreement on the ABM Treaty, therefore, the 'mutual, great agreement' linking the reduction of offensive arsenals and the legality of defensive systems didn't occur.... It has been decided to provide as much cover as possible for the head of the Kremlin (Putin), thus allowing him to go back to Moscow with his own 'success'...and consolidate the basis for a rapprochement between former foes, who next Spring might be able to reach new objectives, during a summit which could be held in Russia."

"Bush And Putin Agree On The Future Of Kabul"

With a bold sub-headline "Washington Offers A Drastic Reduction Of (Its) Nuclear Arsenal," Maurizio Molinari observed from New York in centrist, influential La Stampa (11/14): "At the White House, the two leaders talked to each other as friends and allies; they...assessed their success and looked ahead together.... Russia and Washington look at the next objectives of the war against terrorism together. Bush announced that 'We have created a joint team of experts in order to avoid allowing terrorists to purchase and use weapons of mass destruction, (including) chemical, biological and nuclear arms.' The military aspect is the pivot of any political agreement, which would lead Russia as close as never before to the Atlantic Alliance."

BULGARIA: "Bush And Putin Look For New Rules of Co-Existence"

Left-leaning Monitor commented (11/14): "In the sprit of Bush's new course of unilateral action, now behind the mask of a global coalition against terrorism, the U.S. will probably pull out of the ABM Treaty and will attempt to build systems in violation of this treaty. The Kremlin, despite the opposition of its military, will opt for changes in the strategic field, allowing the U.S. to bolster its defenses against rogue states.... In the current negotiations, however, Putin will have to look for a compromise that paves the way for Bush's demands for shunning the Cold War schemes, but at the same time does not allow the United States to enforce unilaterally its plans in the strategic, military and space fields."

FINLAND: "Unexpectedly Good Friends"

Liberal, Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet observed (11/15): "Cooperation in the anti-terrorism coalition has brought the United States and Russia closer together. Chemistry between Bush and Putin appears to be working well. Nevertheless, it is surprising that Russia and the United States, appear to be so smoothly headed toward an agreement which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world in a decisive way.... One of Russia's goals is to regain its role on the international scene. That requires positive economic developments in the country and it also requires that some burying of hatchets. This is what Putin is looking for during his visit with Bush. Arms control talks take time regardless of the goodwill but, optimally, we could see already next year an agreement which will make the world a little safer place."

HUNGARY: "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"

Senior columnist Janos Avar judged in influential, left-leaning Magyar Hirlap (11/19): "It is a paradox, but nothing better reflects the fundamentally different nature of today's U.S.-Russia relations than the lack of the obligatory movement that is otherwise typical at such high level summits. It was a summit of two successful men, two presidents after 9/11. A theatrical and 'fruitful' summit was not in the interest of either Bush or Putin."

"Putin's Metamorphosis"

Senior columnist Tibor Varkonyi judged in left leaning, influential Magyar Hirlap (11/14): "Putin made the Western leaders accept that the Chechens are also a tool in Osama bin Laden's hands and he (Putin) is the protector of civilization in Grozny. Confidential sources in Moscow claim that the Russian president has worked out his new concept of siding with the West entirely on his own, without consulting his aides. Apparently, he acts often without their approval. What complicates things is the fact that the Russian internal situation, the economic crisis, does not improve. Homeland Russia follows the international 'performance' (of Putin) with great difficulties. At the same time Putin has slightly but surely 'swung back' Russia, and himself, into mainstream international politics."

IRELAND: "Putin In The Limelight"

The conservative, populist Irish Independent's editorial observed (11/17): "Out of the fog of the Afghan war, the leader of a battered former superpower has emerged with increased power, influence and international standing.... Reportedly against the advice of generals and officials, the Russian leader stood firmly by the United States.... And now he has had his reward in the form of a summit meeting with Bush which has succeeded to an extent unimaginable during the Cold War or under the regime of Yeltsin.... But he (Putin) has brought some order to a country which had tumbled into near-chaos. He has begun to repair the economy. And now he has shown his strategic hand. It is a hand far stronger than anyone could have imagined. It has been, and will be, played by a formidable operator."

"U.S. Still Has Way To Go In Convincing Russians On ABM"

Patrick Smyth wrote in the liberal Irish Times (11/15): "The real prize for the Americans is the abandonment of the ABM [Treaty], or at the very least a willingness for the Russians to turn a blind eye for the time being to its prohibition on the testing of missile defense systems.... Yet Russia, if no longer a rival of the United States, still has strategic interests and Mr. Putin, despite his enthusiastic rallying to the United States following September 11th, must not be seen at home to roll over and play dead for the Americans. Russia still has superpower ambitions, a reality reflected in Mr. Putin's somewhat contradictory stances at home and abroad. The United States still has some way to go to persuade him to accept ultimate deployment of the system, if, that is, it ever works. Some Russia watchers, moreover, still remain to be convinced at the sincerity of Mr. Putin's commitment to the West."

MOLDOVA: "Political Configuration of Tomorrow World is Being Decided

Petru Bogatu argued in popular, Christian Democratic Party's Tara (11/16): "The first news that we are getting from the U.S. is confirming the suppositions whereby Bush's ranch could be another Malta, where more than a decade ago the current president's further made a historic compromise with the Russians, after which the face of the world changed. The price that Washington is ready to pay to make Moscow give up some of the Soviet Union's old spheres of influence, thus smoothing the path for the western expansion to the East, is taking shape.... Bush declared, by the way, that his country will substantially reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1700 warheads. In other words, the Russians have been made an extraordinary concession. Due to this fact, they will finally be released from the unbearable burden of the military expenses. The agreements made in Texas will be the basis for the re-launch of the Russian economy and for the consolidation of the Free World's position in the fight against terrorism."

THE NETHERLANDS: "Home On The Ranch"

Influential independent NRC Handelsblad had this editorial (11/17): "However satisfied Bush again shows himself to be about Putin's character, Russia is still far from being the partner that the United States, and, more broadly, the West would like to see. The Putin government wants to make Russia a full partner in political and economic globalization; no doubt about that. But it is at present not able to meet all the necessary requirements. That, in the long run, will make Bush vulnerable to criticism about the new friendship."

"Bush And Putin: A Summit Without Drama"

Centrist Haagsche Courant noted in its editorial (11/17): "What was held as impossible twenty years ago; drastic nuclear arms reduction...now is no more than a gesture of goodwill. Imperceptibly we have taken leave of the paradigm of mutual deterrence between major powers. What was never achieved by massive demonstrations in European capitals, now looks to be simple to arrange. The threat of war comes from opponents who do not want to make their weapons known. Whether a missile shield helps against that remains to be seen. The doomsday machine seems to be able to take on the guise of an envelope with some powder."

POLAND: "Good Omen"

U.S. correspondent Krzysztof Darewicz observed in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/16): "Even though the talks between the U.S. and Russian presidents had not brought a breakthrough on modifying the ABM Treaty the Americans expected, the Bush-Putin summit turned out to be a triumph of pragmatism all the same. It augurs well both for the future of American-Russian relations and for the prospects of strengthening global stability."

"Bush Shares With Putin"

Krzysztof Rak wrote in right-of-center Zycie (11/16): "[Vladimir Putin] has made Russian politics more realistic, tailoring it to the size of a regional power--and this began to bring success. The prescription was simple: Russia must realize that its interests are not against, but in line with those of America."

"Cowboy And Bear, Side By Side"

Wieslaw S. Debski opined in leftist Trybuna (11/16): "Both countries are at last beginning to understand that any further rivalry between them, in particular in the military area, does not make much sense in the current situation. The September 11 events showed that the number of ballistic missiles did not determine the security of a country. New threats require completely new methods of struggle.... Both presidents also understood that no country would secure its own safety by itself."

"Putin's Pragmatism"

Bronislaw Wildstein opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/14): "Putin is a cold pragmatic. Russia's tough position toward the United States did not bring results, but it led instead to the escalation of tension with the West. Not only did Moscow's objection to NATO enlargement fail to block this process-it in fact reduced Russia's range of political and diplomatic actions. Therefore, Putin decided to take the chance that the role of an important U.S. ally gives him."

ROMANIA: "The Main Obstacle"

Nicolae Lupu wrote in opposition Romania Libera (11/20): "The main obstacle which must be overcome is the discrepancy between the position of the American Congress, which asserts there can be no (NATO) expansion without including the Baltic countries, and Putin's opponents, from the high military and Russian political circles, who believe that including the Baltic countries would be a threat to Russia's security. Obviously, Putin could make use of the argument that, since Russia is now a partner and not an enemy, such a thesis becomes absurd."

SLOVENIA: "Brothers In Weapons"

Foreign editor Boris Jausovec opined left-of-center, independent Vecer (11/15): "A chemistry of personal magnetism has been felt [since they first met] which has held out hope to the world. The two presidents...have already agreed about a two-thirds reduction of the number of nuclear warheads.... The international community should be satisfied. The situation has changed after the end of the Cold War.... The time of mutual partnership has begun. The terrorist threat and the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan have to a certain degree forced the presidents to this point.... However, reasons for the decision on the reduction of the number of nuclear warheads are not exclusively humanitarian. The Russians have agreed to it also--or primarily--because the maintenance of their nuclear arsenal...is too expensive. The United States, on the other hand, keeps repeating its story about missile defense.... The problem is that the Russian president does not want to renounce the ABM Treaty.... At Bush's ranch, the presidents are expected to reach a strategic--or a gentlemen's--agreement about this subject."

SPAIN: "Bush, Putin And The War"

Centrist La Vanguardia noted (11/15): "Before 9/11 Bush insisted on NATO enlargement in Eastern Europe and did not hide his determination to implement the old idea of a missile shield.... The war against terrorism was a turning point. Putin offered the U.S. his help and knowledge about Afghanistan.... Now Putin is awaiting the reward. Bush announced his intention of reducing by two-thirds the U.S. strategic nuclear weapons and Russia will proceed accordingly.... Everything hints that there are new ideas about missile defense, which would satisfy Putin. In any case, the treatment provided to the Russian president shows that the United States is now willing to facilitate Russia's return to the international arena. Thanks to the war, Putin has regained part of what he had lost since the end of the Cold War."

"A New Relationship"

Left-of-center El Pais commented (11/15): "It is clear that Bush's intention is to leave behind the excessive nuclear armament on which the obsolete balance of terror of the Cold War was based.... The meeting between Bush and Putin in Washington and Texas should be useful to generate more confidence between both leaders."

TURKEY: "The Bush-Putin Summit"

Fikret Ertan wrote in Islamic/intellectual Zaman (11/14): "Apparently this time the summit will definitely produce some results and Putin will not go back empty-handed.... The reduction in strategic nuclear weapons is something the U.S. also seeking.... Therefore that part is the done-deal portion of the Bush-Putin agenda.... Putin is also going to ask U.S. support for its WTO membership. After all, both sides will benefit from this summit."

YUGOSLAVIA: "A Historic Opportunity"

Foreign-owned, centrist Blic (11/20) carried a commentary by columnist and former Tanjug U.S. correspondent, Dusan Miklja: Why is the shift in the U.S.-Russian relations so educative for us? Because it offers a historic opportunity to the FRY to enter a period of the best relations in a century with the biggest world power. This conclusion stems from the fact that pragmatism, which has always been the main characteristic of the U.S. policy, is now more than ever favorable for us. The fact that the two statesmen (Bush and Putin), who in their talks were focused on the struggle against international terrorism, had found time to discuss the Balkans--more precisely Kosovo--leads us to a conclusion that there has been a shift in the so far one-sided approach to this volatile region. So, it seems almost unnecessary to point out that this is a historic opportunity for us to start seeing the international community as our ally rather than our opponent. Those who due to their bitterness or political blindness cannot do so will find themselves in an absurd, even tragicomic situation when they realize that in their anti-Americanism they cannot rely on Russia any more, simply because Russia is on America's side."


AUSTRALIA: "Shrinking The Nuclear Stockpile"

An editorial in the liberal Melbourne Age stressed (11/16): "The black market in nuclear material is the shadow lying behind the announcement in Washington this week that the United States and Russia have agreed to slash their arsenal of nuclear warheads.... Mr. Bush's pledge to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile is an encouraging sign, however, that a new era of cooperation between the former Cold War enemies is under way.... Proliferation experts have warned that the threat of terrorists obtaining such weapons is real. Russia and the United States have much to gain by cooperating on this issue. Having devised weapons of mass destruction, they have a heavy responsibility to try to keep the genie in the bottle."

CHINA: "ABM Treaty Will Not Last Long"

Xue Fukang wrote in intellectually-oriented Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao, 11/19): "The most important achievement of the Bush-Putin summit is that the U.S. and Russia are to establish a new type of strategic relationship that surpasses the post-Cold War era. This development will make the two countries' discussions on the ABM Treaty lose their original significance, and indicates that the treaty will not last long.... The summit has resulted in a qualitative upgrade of U.S.-Russia relations, a signal that the post-Cold War era is over."

"What Has Made The U.S. And Russia Come Closer?"

Lu Yi commented in the official Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao, 11/15): "By gradually approaching the United States, Putin wishes to lead Russia to make another comeback to the international stage."

HONG KONG SAR: "Reduced Firepower"

The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in its editorial (11/17): "There was a time when a summit between the leaders of the U.S. and the then Soviet Union would grab world headlines. The recent meeting between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in Washington and at the U.S. President's ranch in Texas has barely caused a ripple in the imagination.... The decision by both presidents to reduce their long range nuclear arsenals by two-thirds is a long overdue move, even though it will take a decade to achieve. Hopefully it will be followed by further reductions. In the case of Russia, the cuts in weapons has the added advantage of reducing the money that it needs to spend on maintaining and safeguarding its nuclear arsenal. The agreement to reduce the U.S. and Russian nuclear powers should also act as a spur on the three other countries with significant nuclear arsenals, France, Britain and China, as well as the two recent entrants to the nuclear club, India and Pakistan, to think about reducing their weapons. These huge nuclear stockpiles are remnants of a bygone era, and have no place in the modern world."

"Reducing Missiles Conducive To Building New U.S.-Russian Strategic Framework"

Pro-PRC, Chinese-language Macau Daily News commented in its editorial (11/17): "Bush and Putin issued several joint declarations after their meeting. However, these declarations are just about the new U.S.-Russian relationship, cooperative efforts against bio-terrorism, hitting at drug smuggling and the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Not one declaration is about NMD or amending the 'anti-missile pact.' The only positive message regarding strategic weapons is that Bush and Putin announced they would reduce the number of present warheads by two-thirds. Russia insisted on the importance of investigation and supervision but the U.S. rejected the suggestion. On the issue of whether or not to amend the 'anti-missile pact', the U.S. and Russia still have a lot of differences.... In brief, the results of the U.S.-Russian summit are really limited."

JAPAN: "A Positive Step Toward Nuclear Disarmament"

An editorial in top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (11/15): "A joint statement issued following the White House meeting between Presidents Bush and Putin confirmed the nuclear superpowers' intention to slash their strategic nuclear arsenals. We view the announcement as highly significant because it will give a new boost to efforts to reduce nuclear arms, which are the most visible legacy of the Cold War era.... However, President Putin...made clear that there would be no change in Moscow's position favoring the continuation of the ABM Treaty.... We hope the cooperative relationship between the two countries, which has deepened rapidly since the September 11 terror attacks...will help smooth future bilateral security consultations."

SINGAPORE: "Russia Looks West"

The pro-government Straits Times said in its editorial (11/19): "Despite the surface fuss, the summit can be deemed a success. The absence of rancor was an indication of the extent to which Russia now looks West, and of U.S. desire to accommodate that tendency. With China to its east, and Muslim nations to its south, Russia has obviously decided its future lies with Europe and America, strategically and economically. Bush recognises this fact--thus his kid-glove treatment of Putin on ABM--but will continue to insist that Russia's absorption into the West will be on U.S. terms. The question Asians will have to ask themselves is this: Where does all this leave China? Bush might ask himself that question too."


INDIA: "The U.S.-Russia Consensus"

The centrist Hindu opined (11/19): "Bush and...Putin seem eager to downplay divisive issues that can only cloud their joint commitment to combat international terrorism. This explains their apparent move to place on the backburner a highly sensitive question regarding the future of the...ABM Treaty.... With the ABM irritant off the radar screen for the present, the two countries have identified new priorities: the ongoing anti-terror campaign and the oft-repeated pledge to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles."


SAUDI ARABIA: "Putin Takes a Calculated Risk in Aligning With U.S."

The Jeddah-based, moderate Arab News featured this op-ed by Hassen Tahsin (11/19): "Putin went to Washington with few choices...either to remain aloof and risk a confrontation with the United States and the West, or to agree to be part of the international coalition against terrorism. Putin chose the second option.... Putin tried, by this sharp shift in policy, to project his country as a major player in refashioning the world political map.... The opposition is fierce, especially when it comes to Washington's presence in Central Asia.... The Russian military top brass fears that allowing the United States to use the air space and bases of Central Asia would be interpreted as handing over this region to Washington.... Putin is not ignoring such fears or concerns. He is cautious over strategic issues.... The question political observers in Russia ask is if things don't turn out the way Putin wants or hopes, will the Russian president change course?"


CANADA: "Missile Ententes Matter"

The liberal Toronto Star wrote (11/18): "The Russians, like most of us, hope that over time the Americans will come to regard their dream of achieving invulnerability through missile defences as too costly, too controversial, too technically iffy and too destabilizing to be worth the effort. That is what the ABM drafters believed three decades ago. They haven't been proved wrong yet. Well-crafted ententes still matter."

ARGENTINA: "'Come On, Let's Be Friends'!"

Gabriel A. Uriarte, leftist Pagina 12's international columnist, commented (11/16): "If you ignore the inevitable photo-op...we can say that the summit was remarkable for what it did not achieve. 'Bush and Putin agree on many topics, but not on ABM,' confirmed the always optimistic New York Times. The description could extend to other pending issues between the two countries, including the future of Afghanistan, the policy towards Iraq and Caspian Sea oil, and the conclusion is identical: there was an agreement on all issues, except on those where there was none. Above all, we must emphasize that the reduction in the arsenals of the two countries is not a concession but rather a big 'non-concession' for both. Bush and Putin wanted to reduce their strategic missiles, and for very similar reasons. Both wanted to save money.... But the issue is much less urgent than everybody believes. The United States is years away from deploying a 'strategic' anti-missile system, and until it is able to do so, its only problem with ABM is the degree to which it will ban preliminary tests.... In fact, ABM is not a priority for Putin. It is only a piece of exchange to obtain concessions on a much more disturbing issue for post-Soviet Russia: oil.... All their other bilateral conflicts have future dates [of reckoning]. At present, Bush and Putin have reasons to ignore them in favor of operating together on issues such as terrorism. They do not wish to discuss their true differences without any urgent reason to do so."

"Washington And Moscow, Increasingly Close"

Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin, commented (11/15): "The impressive reduction in nuclear armament agreed upon...does nothing but confirm the turnabout in the relationship...since the September 11 attacks.... Due to those ironies of history, Afghanistan--one of the hottest scenarios during the Cold War--has now allowed for a rapprochement between the United States and Russia.... While there is still serious disagreement about missile defense...both leaders are making an effort to overcome it and there has been a political as well as personal rapprochement between them."

BRAZIL: "Accord Without Treaty"

An editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo read (11/16): "The fact that the [U.S.-Russia nuclear arsenals reduction] accords are to be established on the basis of mutual confidence reinforces the climate of cooperation between Bush and Putin. The problem is in the precariousness of the settlements. Without laws to anchor the negotiations, it is much easier for each side to regress. Those who will succeed Bush and Putin, or even the current leaders themselves, might allege they have changed their minds.... This system tends to work out while both nations' interests remain the same, as it happens now. In the not at all impossible hypothesis of diverse interests, the damage in the relationship between the planet's two largest nuclear superpowers may be great."

CHILE: "Summit Of Superpowers"

Leading, independent La Tercera ran this editorial (11/19): "Bilateral relations between the United States and Russia have acquired a new dynamic after the September 11 attack.... The new international scenario...has brought these two countries closer together in the sense that the two have identified terrorism as the greatest threat the world faces today.... Bush's decision to not unilaterally abandon the ABM Treaty and Putin's improved disposition to discuss it, show the good standing of diplomatic ties between the two nations. The improved relations between these two powers is positive, as long as it gives the new international scenario greater stability in the aftermath of September 11."

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