Both Obama and Mr. Medvedev issued the obligatory pre-summit statements, accentuating the positive and laying out ambitious hopes for progress in arms control, nonproliferation, counter-terrorism, energy cooperation, and economic development.
"Russia is a great country with an extraordinary culture and extraordinary traditions," Obama said in an interview with Russian state TV Friday. "It remains one of the most powerful countries in the world and has, I think, enormous potential for being a force for stability and prosperity in the international community."
Speaking via his new LiveJournal blog, Medvedev praised the Obama White House for "showing its willingness to change the situation and build more effective, reliable, and ultimately more modern relations. We are ready to play our part."
From scowl to smile?
The Russian public appears to have caught at least a touch of that optimism. A survey released Friday by the independent Russian Public Opinion Research Center found that 46 percent of Russians have a "positive" attitude toward the US. That's dramatically up from 22 percent in a similar poll last September, following Russia's brief summer war with neighboring Georgia. Thirty-three percent last week described their feelings about the US as "negative," compared with 65 percent in September.
But in many key areas where experts had hoped for rapid improvement in relations problems appear to be piling up faster than projected solutions. The euphoric expectation that Obama might quickly "reset" the troubled Moscow-Washington equation has long since worn off.