By Richard Weitz
During his October 19 appearance at the Valdai Club, Russian President Vladimir Putin focused on the past to a disconcerting degree, reiterating Russia’s long-standing complaints about the US and exhibiting a conspiratorial mindset, but provided no clue as to where he wants to move US-Russian relations in the coming months and years.
Organizers take pride in the Valdai Discussion Club’s generally forward-looking approach. Yet during his appearance before this year’s gathering of foreign experts, President Vladimir Putin focused on the past to a disconcerting degree.
Putin’s preoccupation with recent history has troubling implications for the future, specifically for US-Russian relations. It was surprising that the Russian president devoted such a considerable chunk of time to reviewing arms control and proliferation issues of the 1990s. In doing so, Putin identified a serious challenge for Russian and US leaders: the arms control and nonproliferation architecture that Moscow and Washington constructed during the Cold War is eroding, and no one on either side is doing much at this time to make repairs.
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