President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, “agreed to agree” Monday, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. And that’s a big accomplishment, given the “sorry state of bilateral relations that the two leaders inherited.” The first U.S.-Russian summit in seven years has produced few breakthroughs—a cut in nuclear stockpiles, a deal for the U.S. to fly military supplies over Russia—but its a “good start” toward mending crucial ties.
In many ways this looks like all of Obama’s foreign visits, said Michael Idov in The Daily Beast. But beneath the usual photo ops and treaties is an anomaly—Russia is that “rare land” where Obama is “neither despised nor loved.” The only Russians not apathetic about his visit are the “hipster set” in Moscow, and even they view him like “the iPhone and Scarlett Johansson: a nifty little thing it would be nice but impossible to claim as our own.”
Presumably, Medvedev and “Supreme Leader Vladimir Putin” are also happy about Obama’s visit, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. After all, the summit’s “retro” agenda “rests on a fiction”: that Russia is still a superpower with anything concrete to offer us. The nuclear deal is fine, but Obama should focus on U.S. goals: missile defense in Poland, protecting Georgia, and expanding freedom to Russia’s embattled neighbors.
It’s true that “the most valuable reset buttons are on Obama’s side of the table,” said The Boston Globe in an editorial. But he can get more concessions out of Russia—say, real help keeping Iran nuke-free—if he gives up things Russia fears but the U.S. doesn’t need, like the dubious nuclear shield and the unlikely NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine.