Those who heard the US president's speech Tuesday were impressed with his references to Russian literature and his description of the end of the cold war as 'our common victory.'
For some Russians, the fresh accords to limit nuclear weapons and allow the US to resupply its forces in Afghanistan via Russian territory are good developments, but what impressed them most was a US president who speaks as though he actually understands the Russian point of view.
"I never heard any Western leader talk like this before," says Mikhail Troitskiy, an expert with the State Institute of International Relations. "He touched me when he spoke about the end of the cold war as our 'common victory.' And I was amazed to hear him make references to Russian poetry and literature. He seemed to really connect."
Obama: Five ways to improve US-Russian relations
Addressing students at Moscow's New Economic School on Tuesday, the second day of his visit, Obama argued that Russia and the US are "not destined to be antagonists" and that the national interests of both would be best served through cooperation.
He offered five arenas for building a new relationship: stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; combating violent extremism; cultivating economic development; promoting human rights; and fostering international cooperation within the constraints of national sovereignty.
"Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia," Obama said. "The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game. Progress must be shared."