Review: Obama-Putin Meeting: No BMD Deal, Cyber Group,VP-PM,Geneva-2 for Syria

Bottom-line: No BMD/arms control deal, but hope remains it might be resolved at the September summit; agreed to set up cyber security working group, VP-PM format for economic cooperation and dialogue between national security council; as well as to revive meetings of defense and foreign policy chiefs; expressed cautious optimism over outcome of Iranian elections, disagreed over Syria, but agreed to push for a Geneva-2.
See main points below with my comments in Italics:

Signed joint statement on “Expansion of Bilateral Cooperation.” Most of contents expected.

  • “We have reached an understanding on a positive agenda in relations between our countries, covering strategic issues of arms control, non-proliferation and international security, increased trade and investment, response to global threats and challenges, the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and well as building relationships between the societies and people. This extensive program of action requires a seal interaction at all levels.” So no explicit tasking of Ryabkov and Gottemoeller to work out a BMD deal, but still “understanding on strategic issues of arms control” generates hope there could be a BMD deal when they meet in September. It was kind of clear that there won’t be a BMD deal reached at the June meeting however: Patrushev’s reference to restructuring of EPAA’s Phase IV as “cosmetic change” and demand “for legally-binding” guarantees after his recent meeting with Obama were indeed a sign that it won’t be easy.
  • Will hold bilateral summit in Moscow “to discuss the whole spectrum of the bilateral and international issues in greater detail” on 09.03.13-09.04.13. Good sign that they decided to meet separately in Moscow rather than on sidelines of the G20 summit in St. Pete on 09.05.-13-09.06.13. Means both sides confident they will have important docs to sign. Maybe executive agreements on BMD cooperation and nuclear reductions?
  • Set up VP-PM format for economic cooperation. Finally, have been calling for this since 2008 – deeper economic ties are prerequisite for sustainable cooperation.
  • Revive 2+2 format (meetings of defense and foreign policy chiefs). Expected and positive: R. Gates came up with some creative ideas on how to reach a BMD deal during these meeting.
  • Establish “regular dialogue” between National Security Councils. Unexpected and important for both CT and arms control.

Signed joint statement on “New Sphere of Cooperation in Building Trust.” Expected

  • “We have decided to set up a working group on ICT (information and communication technologies)… within  the Bilateral Presidential Commission” to:
    • exchange information through the existing direct communication channel maintained between the U.S. and Russian Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers;
    • facilitate exchange of urgent alerts to avoid misunderstand and conflict escalation;
  • “We recognize that ICT threats ….include military, political and criminal threats, and threats of a terrorist nature and relate to a number of the most serious problems of national and international security that we face in the XXI century.”

Signed joint statement on “on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism.” Expected, but lacks substance, except for pledge for joint operations.

  • Deepen cooperation between CT agencies and conduct joint operations.
  • Mentions GICNT.
  • “Seriously concerned about use of modern information and communication technologies by terrorists for communication, information collection, dissemination of its ideology, attracting of  new supporters and funding, planning, organization and execution of the attacks.”

Nunn-Lugar modified and extended

  • Obama said he and Putin agreed to extend the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement that expired on 06.16.13.He called the extension “an example of the kind of constructive, cooperative relationship that moves us out of a cold war mind-set.” Obama administration officials acknowledged that the United States had agreed to modify the agreement, in response to the Russians’ objections that its program for dismantling nuclear and chemical weapons in former Soviet states gave the United States too large a role in Russia’s affairs.

Iran: Both Obama and Putin expressed optimism that the election in Iran may open a new avenue for ending the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

  • Obama said that he and Putin expressed "cautious optimism" about the ability to move forward on a dialogue with Iran after a moderate cleric was elected president there.
  • Putin:“With election in Iran we hope there are new opportunities.”

DPRK: Agreed to agree:

  • Putin:  “We have agreed to activate the efforts.”

Syria: Both Obama and Putin agree to disagree, but both want Geneva-2

  • Obama: "With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem but we share an interest in reducing the violence and securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation,"
  • Putin:
    • "Our positions do not fully coincide, but we are united by the common intention to end the violence, to stop the number of victims increasing in Syria, to resolve the problems by peaceful means, including the Geneva talks.”
      • separately warned the West not to arm Syria's opposition fighters because they "eat the organs" of their enemies.

(Sources: Kremlin.ru, WhiteHouse.gov, Bloomberg, Reuters, BBC, 09.17.13, New York Times, 09.18.13).

 

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