It makes sense to restart relations by cutting nukes.
In their first face-to-face meeting this week, President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed that the two countries should get back to nuclear arms control. That might seem retro, and not particularly relevant in the post cold-war age.
But the direction set by the two presidents is very much 21st-century. And it's hard to imagine a better way to "reset" this troubled relationship than to hit the weapons-negotiation button.
First, about the relationship, which both presidents diplomatically describe as "drifting."
Russia would like to be seen as an equal partner with the US in managing the world's problems. Maybe someday this will be possible, but not while Moscow acts like a czarist imperialist, claiming a "sphere of influence" over its neighbors, relying on force and threats in places like Georgia. Not while it unnerves Europe by turning off the energy tap in mid-winter. Not while it clamps down on freedoms at home, and journalists, activists, and political opponents end up jailed, beaten, and even dead.
The nuclear arena, however, is one area where Moscow and Washington share stature. It's smart to converge on an issue where the two countries have equal footing.
As for relevance today, the act of Russia and the US negotiating nuclear arms reductions sets a positive example for nuclear-ambitious countries such as Iran and North Korea (though one could also argue that reductions might motivate countries with smaller arsenals, such as China, to seek parity).