As French troops continue to engage Islamist rebels in Mali, questions are being raised over how long they will stay, and the real commitment of the president to ending France's long history of interventionism on the continent.
After some disappointment in Obama's first term, there is a moment of optimism for transatlantic relations. Washington and Brussels should capitalise on this moment, and work to ensure closer co-operation in pursuit of their strategic objectives in President Obama's second term.
The French assault on militant jihadists in Mali reflects a recognition in Paris that the long-brewing Islamist trouble in North Africa is something that has started to spiral out of control, and has potential to have a direct impact within France.
While the leadership transitions of 2012 have altered this year's political landscape, they have left the nuclear agenda for 2013 regrettably unchanged. Thankfully, this new backdrop may provide opportunities to find new solutions to old problems.
The recent dismissal of the Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, over Putin's public objections, brings into question the Russian President's control over the Russian elite. It also reveals latent tensions between the reformers and traditionalists within Russia’s defence establishment.