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Presidential post: Putin’s response to Obama letter to be ‘mailed’ soon

Published time: May 15, 2013 12:29
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow (Reuters / Jim Young)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow (Reuters / Jim Young)

President Putin’s office is composing an answer to US President Obama’s letter on missile defense, nuclear disarmament and transparent interaction. The Kremlin promises to have the answer ready no later than May 20.

The exact content of the personal message from Obama to Putin remains secret, but Russia’s Kommersant daily has learnt the main topics of the letter.

The central idea of the letter delivered to Moscow by the National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration, Thomas Donilon, on April 15 is that the two great states should not waste time on insignificant quarrels and concentrate on global issues. That is why the letter does not even mention such troubling matters as the Magnitsky List, Russia’s so-called Foreign Agents law and the matters of Russian citizens jailed in the US on controversial accusations.

Instead, Washington proposes that Moscow focuses on managing strategic issues and the Obama administration is full of determination to reach a number of breakthrough agreements this year.

Reportedly, Obama proposes to sign a mutual legally binding agreement that would make American and Russian missile defenses transparent to each other to ensure that the countries are not planning aggressive moves against each other.

According to Interfax, Obama can sign such agreement without approval from Congress, but that would make the document highly time-sensitive: it would be valid as long as Barack Obama remains in office – and not a minute longer.
The American president also proposed further denuclearization of the US and Russia, following the Measures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms treaty signed on 8 April, 2010, by Obama and then-President Dmitry Medvedev.

Obama’s letter also contains some sort of proposals aimed at strengthening economic ties between Washington and Moscow. The Obama administration proposed to establish a new consultation body on a ‘US vice-president – Russian PM’ level to achieve this economic objective, Kommersant reported.

The daily’s sources in the Kremlin shared that the answer is halfway through and there are no obstacles that might interfere with completing the reply by May 20, when Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev is expected to hand over Putin’s answer to the US president.

Whether or not the exchange of personal letters between the two presidents becomes lost in the labyrinth of mutual distrust between the two countries remains to be seen.

The first round of negotiations is set to take place in June at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

Moscow suggested that President Obama might visit Russia on a special visit, but Washington initially turned the proposal down, scheduling another round to take place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg in September.

Still, there is a possibility that the most principal issues will be finalized at the bilateral meeting of two presidents in Moscow – if President Obama agrees to come to the Russian capital two days ahead of the G20 summit.

In the meantime, on May 15, President Vladimir Putin chaired a council of country’s military top brass. The meeting has been specifically dedicated to development of home-grown missile defense systems and penetration of missile defenses of potential adversaries.