As the US President Barack Obama arrived in Moscow this morning, there were predictions of a significant agreement between the Russian and US governments over a reduction in nuclear warheads.
Both sides are said to see this as a chance to improve relations following the confrontations of the George Bush years. There are contradictory reports about whether a draft plan has yet been agreed.
It is reported that the number of warheads held by each government may fall below 2,000 for the first time in decades, but this may be optimistic.
However, Obama is under pressure over his apparently contradictory aim of establishing a nuclear missile 'shield' in Europe.
“We believe that these topics are interrelated and for understandable reasons,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the media, “If restraint and an ability to compromise is displayed, then we can agree on the basis of a new deal”.
American claims that the 'shield' is aimed at preventing an attack by Iran, not Russia, have been met with scepticism. The plan involves siting nuclear weapons in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Obama will meet Medvedev today and the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – said by some still to be the most powerful person in Russia – tomorrow.
In addition to their discussions on nuclear weapons, they are expected to cover international issues such as the position of North Korea, on which Obama is said to be confident of reaching agreement.
Between them, Russia and the USA possess over 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons. However, the UK government has recently come under criticism over its decision to renew its nuclear weapons system, Trident, at a time when Russia and the USA are discussing nuclear arms reduction.