"The reset was a transition from a period of almost no constructive relations under George W. Bush to the normal and fruitful dialogue we see today," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading Moscow foreign policy journal. He says the two-year reset brought major accomplishments, including the signing of the first post-cold war comprehensive arms control treaty, New START, a Russian end to arms sales to Iran, and Moscow's help in forging a resupply corridor for the embattled NATO mission in Afghanistan through former Soviet territory.
"The original list of things-to-do in the reset has been completed, and now the relationship must move ahead to fresh tasks," says Mr. Lukyanov. "Biden came to Moscow to set the agenda for the future."
Biden, who met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his visit, had set trade and economic relations as his priority, including assisting Russia in overcoming the final hurdles to entering the WTO. Moscow's on-again-off-again bid to join the global trade regime appears to be serious this time, and Biden told Mr. Medvedev at a Kremlin meeting Wednesday that the US wants to be helpful in building economic bridges.
A US prod might be the only thing that could persuade Georgia to drop its stubborn objections to Russian membership. Since the WTO requires newcomers to be ratified by consensus, Georgia's stand over Russia's continued sponsorship of breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia could leave Moscow's application in limbo indefinitely.