The Kremlin’s announcement earlier today that President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the G-8 summit in Camp David on May 18-19 comes as a surprise. This is a most recent decision, as all indications were that Putin had accepted President Barack Obama’s invitation.
In an extraordinary gesture, Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Dillon met Putin in Moscow on the eve of the latter’s taking over as president. The White House statement conveyed
that Dillon had ‘constructive’ discussions on US-Russia relations. It referred to “consultations on mutual strategic interest”. Evidently, the topic of missile defence figured.
The Kremlin has rubbished the speculation that Putin chose to skip the visit to the US to avoid embarrassment over western criticism regarding ‘democracy deficit’ in Russia. Interestingly, Putin has nominated prime minister-designate Dmitry Medvedev to represent him. A tongue-in-cheek remark
said “During Medvedev’s work as the president, Russia-US relations have experienced a notable progress, ad the work on that direction is to be continued.”
Curiously, Putin also had a phone conversation with Obama
on Wednesday, which was described as a “constructive conversation” by the Kremlin. So, what prompted Putin’s decision to drop out, finally? In all probability, missile defence poses a formidable obstacle in the Russia-US discourse.
One of the first acts by Putin after taking over as president was to issue a decree affirming that Moscow will remain consistent
on its policy to seek “guarantees” that the US missile defence system will not be “directed against Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces.”
Without doubt, Putin would have factored in that Obama hopes to showcase the G-8 summit at Camp David for political mileage in the US presidential election campaign. The ‘downgrading’ of Russia’s representation at the summit will be invested with political symbolism when things look somewhat grim
on the missile defence issue. Indeed, Putin is scheduling a visit to China in June.
Posted in Diplomacy, Politics, Uncategorized.
– May 10, 2012