The good news in Russia is that Dimitry Medvedev is president of the nation, the bad news is that Vladmir Putin is prime minister of the country. The president was working with American officials to conclude a new US-Russian arms control agreement to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which expired on December 5. Medvedev was also seeking to have Russia enter the World Trade Organization and had cooperated with American officials to work out some minor issues, but along came the man of toughness, Vladmir, the karate king. Putin reminded the world being president of Russia is no guarantee one can do anything unless the prime minister agrees. He threw cold water on the proposed agreement. According to Putin, “the problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one.”
There is no question Putin simply does not like being second banana to anyone and he already has indicated a desire to run again in the next presidential election. He sabotaged Medvedev’s attempt to work with the world on sanctions against Iranian efforts to build nuclear weapons just as he undercut the president who was attempting to get Russia into the World Trade Organization.
At the next presidential election the people of Russia will have to decide whether they wish their nation to evolve into a constitutional democracy or go backwards to a watered down version of the Soviet Union.