The Kremlin hopes that Barack Obama’s liberalism and Europe’s disinclination to join another arms race will spare it an additional financial strain.

The Kremlin hopes that the crisis under way will compel Washington and Brussels to at least check the endless eastward expansion. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged Europe to fix abandonment of NATO’s expansion in a special document. Putin made it plain that should the United States reconsider its options and abstain from installing elements of the ballistic missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, Russia would desist deploying Iskanders around Kaliningrad and disband the Strategic Missile Forces division near Kaluga. Putin expressed the hope that the United States would renew the START treaty with Russia. There would be no need for Moscow to boost the military budget if all of that came to pass.

Speaking at the international conference on humanitarian issues in St.Petersburg yesterday, Putin urged EU countries to center basic parameters of arms control in the future European security framework treaty around three “nots”. “Not to ensure one’s security at the cost of others, not to permit any actions that will weaken unity, and not to permit development and expansion of military blocs encroaching on interests of other signatories,” Putin said. There is no need to explain that the Russian premier was talking of NATO’s intended eastward expansion into Georgia and Ukraine, Russia’s neighbors that expect to be recognized as candidates for membership come December.

“As soon as we see that the new US Administration abandoned the plans to develop elements of the ABM defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, the matter of our response will be settled automatically,” Putin said. As for the gist of the response, President Dmitry Medvedev included it in his message to the Federal Assembly on November 5: deployment of Iskander complexes in the Kaliningrad enclave and revision of the plans to disband a division of the Strategic Missile Forces stationed near Kaluga.

Putin said it would be nice if the new US Administration agreed to renew the START treaty expiring in December 2009. The Kremlin hopes that Barack Obama will ignore the pleas from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to lift the ban off nuclear tests and modernize the American nuclear potential.

Putin’s latest dovish statements certainly differ from his stiff anti-Western rhetorics of the previous two years. President Medvedev was quite congenial too, the other day. “The Kremlin entertains the hope that Obama’s liberalism and Europe’s unwillingness to join another arms race will enable Russia to save money on the military budget,” Alexander Khramchikhin of the Institute of Political and military Analysis said. “Should NATO continue its eastward expansion despite the crisis, it will mean an additional financial strain on Russia,” Konstantin Makienko of the AST Center said.