Caucasus Crisis

Vick
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Vick » 10 Sep 2008 07:54

Sudarshan, a book recommendation, if you haven't already checked it out:
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

It was a pretty informative read, at least for me.

Kati
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Kati » 10 Sep 2008 08:45

Vick wrote:The Russian behavior can best be analagous to the death throes of a dying star. Before death, the star will get bloated and pompous and will devour its nearest planets. Eventually, it will settle down into a mostly benign white dwarf. Amidst the sound and fury, the actual heart of the star is slowly failing... just a matter of time.

The trick for the neighbors is to limit the damage during these times and wait patiently for this phase to be over.



I guess, that characterization applies to unkil also, isn't it?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby SwamyG » 10 Sep 2008 08:46

Vick: I have not read the book, but watched the documentary based on the book. Naturally documentaries would not be comprehensive as the book. I understand he feels India was too fragmented to rise as Europe. But wasn't Europe fragmented too? What is your take on his opinion on India?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby svinayak » 10 Sep 2008 13:09

Image

Check out the georgian script

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 14:52

Sacked Air Force Secretary: We Shoulda Sent Jets, Troops to Fight Russia
The former Secretary of the Air Force says he would've been willing to risk World War III, to take on Moscow

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 16:27

Israel tells businessmen to stop visiting Georgia

6 hours ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli defense officials say the government has told all businessmen involved in military sales to Georgia to immediately cease visits to the former Soviet republic. :!:

The officials say the directive was decided upon this week because Israel is concerned about damage to its relations with Russia. Israel had decided to stop most weapons sales to Georgia even before the Russia-Georgia war last month.

One of Israel's primary concerns is that Russia could sell Iran advanced weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles.


The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the directive had not been made public.

Israel has sold Georgia drones and other technologies, and Israelis trained Georgian units in urban warfare and counterterrorism tactics.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 16:40


renukb
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 16:59


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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 17:04

Russia threatens to target missiles at US sites

Posted 42 minutes ago

Russia has threatened to target planned US missile shield sites in Europe as tensions mounted over Georgia, with the shooting of a policeman and discord over the remit of EU observers.

General Nikolai Solovtsov, head of strategic missile forces, said if the United States set up installations in central Europe the Kremlin would ensure that Russia's vast nuclear arsenal remained effective.

He criticised a lack of transparency in Washington's plans and warned that its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic and "other such objects" could become "designated targets" for inter-continental ballistic missiles.

"We should be sure that the current and future strategic missile forces... are guaranteed to fulfil the task of strategic deterrence," he said.

Washington insists its shield - endorsed by all 26 NATO member states earlier this year - is to fend off potential missile attacks by what it calls "rogue states", presumably such as Iran.

Russia has long complained that the system is a security threat designed to undermine its nuclear deterrent. It has threatened retaliation against the Poles and Czechs, warning they could become a target for Russian attack.

The issue has been brought into sharper focus against the backdrop of events in Georgia, where the US has accused Russia of seeking to redraw the map by brutally violating another country's territorial integrity.

Russia poured tanks and thousands of troops into its southern neighbour last month as it repelled a Georgian attempt to regain control of the breakaway province of South Ossetia from Moscow-backed separatists.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev committed on Monday (local time) to pull all Russian troops back from Georgia - apart from the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - within a month.

Mr Medvedev also pledged to allow 200 EU observers to join other international staff in monitoring the withdrawal and ensuring the truce.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ruled out the possibility that European Union observers would be allowed into South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

But in Brussels EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the observer mission "will be deployed with the spirit that it can deploy everywhere", including the two rebel regions.


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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 10 Sep 2008 17:13

Russia should just keep quiet, come out with asymmetrical responses like these, keep its economic fundamentals right (not present in most EU countries) like:

-- 0 deficit
-- 0 public debt
-- Economy diversified into high tech manufacturing
-- Acquire knowledge based patents (Nano tech for example)
-- Keep agile defense that can cause unacceptable damage to adventurers
-- Arm "hot heads" with defensive weapons that really make a difference

And wait for US to

-- Reach near unsustainable deficit
-- Reach unsustainable defense budget

Nothing else need to be done.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 20:45

Crisis, what crisis? ask Russia policymakers

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The stock market has plunged more than 40 percent, some foreign investors have fled and the rouble is under pressure, but Russia's policymakers aren't too bothered.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 20:48

Russia And Europe: Who's Driving Who?

In the wake of Russia's assault on neighboring Georgia, much has been made of Europe's dependence on the Kremlin's vast energy reserves. Less talked about: Russia's dependence on Europe for nearly everything else.

In the first quarter of this year, Russian imports increased by a whopping 42%. Europe--especially Germany, which has misgivings about its heavy reliance on Russian exports of oil and gas--eagerly embraced the opportunity to satisfy Russia's hunger for capital goods. In 2007, Germany's exports to Russia--machinery, vehicles, chemical products, electronic products and food products--grew by roughly 25%, or three times faster than overall German exports.

The relentless rise of commodities prices during the past decade flooded the Russian economy with cash and sparked a surge in demand for everything from fresh fruit to fast cars. The result was double-digit inflation, acute labor shortages, staggering wage increases and the full gamut of textbook economic overheating indicators.

"All these signs are present in Russia today," said the most recent issue of the World Bank's Russian Economic Report. "The current account surplus from high oil prices masks the rapid growth of imports and the deepening of the non-oil current account deficit."

Russia is simply too small to absorb the swell of oil and gas revenues it has received in recent years. Labor shortages would increase real wages, which in turn would increase prices. In the first four months of 2008, the average monthly wage rose by 40% over the same period the previous year, according to the World Bank. Food prices in Russia have risen rapidly in the past two years and there is no end in sight.

Automotive sales tell the tale. Since 2000, Russia has become the second largest export market for European cars. Unlike other trade relationships, the trade in cars between the European Union and Russia is totally lopsided. For example, the U.S. sells more cars in Europe than vice versa. On the other hand, Russia buys European cars, but Europe doesn't buy Russian cars.

In the first six months of 2008, car sales in Russia grew by 41%, making Russia's automotive market larger than any other in Europe, according to a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Meanwhile, Germany's exports to Russia rose by nearly 25% to 15.8 billion euros in the first half of 2008, the largest increase among Germany's major trading partners. Nearly 5,000 German companies have a presence in Russia and several of them, such as car manufacturer Volkswagen (other-otc: VLKAF.PK - news - people ), chemicals group BASF (nyse: BF - news - people ), airline Lufthansa and travel group TUI have made substantial investments in Russia. Last week, Volkswagen said it had plans to expand production at one of its plants in Russia to meet the roaring demand.

Demographics will accelerate the trend. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Russia and former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe slipped into a state of decline that has yet to hit bottom. Russians stopped having children and started dying younger and younger. In fact, Russia is one of the few nations where male life expectancy fell between 1960 and 2000.

Today, heart disease, traffic accidents and alcoholism kill so many Russians that the male life expectancy is under the age of 60. In the past 15 years, Russia's population has plunged by more than 6 million. If current trends continue, those losses could increase by another 18 million people by 2025. In other words, Russia would slip from the sixth-most populous country in the world to the 17th.

Meanwhile, Russia's workforce is shrinking even faster than its overall population. In recent years, more than 700,000 working-age people have left the workforce each year. By 2010, the workforce is likely to shrink by almost 9 million, from the present 74.5 million to the reduced figure of 65.5 million, according to data from the Russian Health and Social Development Ministry.

The trade relationship between the E.U. and Ukraine over the last decade illustrates the potential export market for European goods in Russia.

Since 2000, Europe's trade in goods with Ukraine has more than tripled in value. Europe's exports to Ukraine have climbed nearly twice as fast as imports, bringing Europe's trade surplus with Ukraine from 0.6 billion euros in 2000 to 10.0 billon in 2007.

Ukraine is one of the few countries where declining population levels have strained labor markets even more acutely than in Russia. As a result, Ukraine's manufacturing sector lacks the manpower needed to compete with those in European countries.

"Nearly half of E.U. 27 exports to Ukraine in 2007 were machinery and vehicles and a further quarter were other manufactured articles," according to data released last week by the European Commission.

Needless to say, machinery and vehicles are also the leading categories of European exports to Russia. Since 2000, the number of European cars sold in Russia has risen by 34%. Last year, Russia surpassed Japan as the second largest export market for European automakers, accounting for nearly 10% of all Europe's car exports.

Meanwhile, European imports of Russian cars have fallen from 70 million euros in 2000 to 36 million euros in 2007. So much for Russian manufacturing. When you've got euros in your pocket and Europe on your border, who needs factories anyway?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 20:52

The coalition government of Ukraine, made up of the party of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the smaller Our Ukraine party of President Viktor Yushchenko, collapsed in bitter acrimony on Wednesday, September 3.

Yushchenko has threatened to dissolve parliament and call snap elections unless a new coalition can be formed, blaming the crisis on Tymoshenko. The two were the leading figures of the 2004 “Orange Revolution,” in which forces backed by Washington and western European powers orchestrated a campaign to secure the presidency of Ukraine for Yushchenko against the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich.

Members of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party walked out of the cabinet in protest at Tymoshenko’s refusal to support a parliamentary condemnation of Russia’s actions against Georgia in August, as well as proposals tabled September 2 by the pro-Russian opposition Party of the Regions to greatly reduce the powers of the president, which Tymoshenko’s party had supported in an effort to undermine her coalition rival.

“A political and constitutional coup d’état has started in the parliament,” Yushchenko said of Tymoshenko’s planned constitutional changes in a televised speech following the cabinet split.

In an interview with the Financial Times following the government’s collapse, Yushchenko suggested that Russia had fuelled the political crisis, claiming that Tymoshenko had held secret talks with “forces abroad.”

In response, Tymoshenko stated on national television: “I am sorry that the president behaves irresponsibly. The coalition was destroyed under his instruction.”

The prime minister has also claimed that the crisis is a product of Yushchenko’s political desperation, as he attempts to boost his poor public standing prior to next year’s presidential election, in which both he and Tymoshenko are expected to run.

Upping the ante, Yushchenko has reportedly initiated a prosecution against Tymoshenko on charges of high treason. Tymoshenko claimed on September 8 that she received a subpoena to appear before state prosecutors. The prosecutors’ office declined to comment.

Under Ukraine’s constitution, the two leaders have until the weekend to revive their coalition. If they cannot do so, then the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) is allowed 30 days to form a new coalition.

Yushchenko is expected to call a further round of parliamentary elections unless the two “Orange” factions can come to a temporary accommodation. A new general election would be the third parliamentary vote held in as many years.

In the last parliamentary election of September 30, 2007, the Our Ukraine party led by Yushchenko only managed to gain 14 percent of the vote, while the Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko received more than 30 percent. The Party of the Regions, led by former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, won 34 percent.

The 2007 vote was called in order to unseat a coalition government led by Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions. This had followed an earlier breakdown of the “Orange coalition” between the president and Tymoshenko.

The disputes between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko have centred on who should wield most power, the presidency or the post of prime minister. With control over highly lucrative privatisation deals, oil and gas transit routes, government contracts and the judicial system at stake, the rival oligarchic clans in Ukraine that form the basis for party politics in the Verkhovna Rada have diverged according to their own interests around Tymoshenko, Yushchenko or the Party of the Regions.

....mpre....

Ukraine: US-Russia conflict provokes government collapse

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 20:55

Merkel Says Russia Ties Stronger Than `Controversies' (Update1)

By Brian Parkin

Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany and Russia are bound by common ties stronger than any ``controversies'' that may divide them, a reference to Russia's military incursion into Georgia last month which she condemned.

Merkel, addressing an event in the eastern German city of Leipzig today marking 50 years of the natural gas company VNG Group, said that ``long-term gas contracts are based on mutual interests'' and not a one-sided relationship.

``Russia needs customers and we need deliveries, and that goes also for the European Union,'' Merkel said. ``I see many future opportunities. Of course we have controversies, yet we have shared interests, and we should cement these links and make them more binding.''

Merkel's comments reflect Germany's political and economic engagement with Russia that began in the 1960s and reached its zenith under her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder. The former chancellor is now co-head of a joint venture with Russian state- owned gas monopoly OAO Gazprom that's building a Baltic Sea gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.

German exports to Russia rose 20 percent in 2007 to $42 billion, making it Russia's No.1 EU trading partner. Germany in turn relies on Russia for 40 percent of its gas imports and about 35 percent of its oil.

Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, addressing the same event, said that Russian gas supplies to Europe will continue without interruption.

`Reliable' Gazprom

``Our deliveries have always been reliable, I want to assure you that this will remain so in the future,'' Miller said in remarks translated from the Russian. ``We take our responsibilities very seriously, right along the line from upstream to delivery.''

Russia has cut natural gas exports to Ukraine over pricing disputes twice in the last three years. Gazprom halted shipments of natural gas to Belarus for about a day in February 2004, also during a disagreement over pricing.

Russia stopped shipping oil by pipeline to EU member Lithuania through the Druzhba pipeline after a spill in July 2006. Lithuania called the closure politically motivated, a charge rejected by Russia's oil pipeline monopoly OAO Transneft, which said it stopped supplies because of pipeline defects.

Russian oil shipments to the Czech Republic dropped in July after the Czech government agreed to host a radar site for the U.S. missile defense system. Russian officials said the reasons for the drop were commercial.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.net.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Y. Kanan » 10 Sep 2008 21:20

Ukraine's president seems eager to provoke a confrontation with Russia. By threatening to kick the Russians out of Sevastopol (even before their lease expires in 2017) and attempting to sideline the pro-Russian elements in his own democratically elected gov't, Yushchenko is obviously chafing at the bit. Charging your own prime minister with treason because she doesn't back an ill-conceived resolution is quite a reckless move, guaranteed to anger the Russians (and pro-Russian Ukrainians) living in the country.

Yushchenko's no fool - he must have good reason to believe the US will back him militarily when civil war and/or war w/Russia breaks out. I feel the Russians are being sucked into a far bigger trap than Georgia was.

At first, I didn't believe the conspiracy theories that the US deliberately engineered the Georgia war to weaken Russia. But now Ukraine's pro-western puppet Yushchenko has, like Sakashivilli, suddenly and inexplicably gone bananas. It doesn't make sense unless he's got strong US backing and encouragement.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 10 Sep 2008 21:33

Let us forget all this politics and have a look at Julia Tymoshenko (Ukraine PM and President's rival). Wish we had such good looking politicians! :D

http://www.tymoshenko.com.ua/eng/

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 23:23

Fear that Sevastopol may be next port of call for Russia

Few places in the world must have watched the Russian military adventures in Georgia closer than the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol.

The city on the Crimean Peninsula has been used jointly by the Russian and Ukrainian navies since Moscow lost the home of its Black Sea Fleet in the break-up of its Soviet empire.

Kiev and Moscow have shared the port uneasily ever since, with Russia's shaky grip based on a 20-year lease that is due to expire in 2017.

The prospect of the home of its Black Sea Fleet becoming incorporated into Ukraine is unthinkable. As long as Ukraine has sovereignty over Sevastopol Russian use of its Navy could be circumscribed.

The decision by Russia to send warships from Sevastopol to the Georgian coast brought sharp recriminations from the Ukrainians who warned Moscow that it was in breach of neutrality and putting it in danger of being drawn into the conflict.

With Nato hawks eager to admit Ukraine to the Western alliance how far may Russia go to stop Sevastopol coming under the Nato umbrella? Many fear it could become the next flashpoint between Russia and the West, not least because Stalin's redrawing of borders left the ethnically Russian city under Ukrainian sovereignty.

Ukraine carries special resonance as the heartland of ancient Kievan Rus, the birthplace of Russian culture and identity. Most Russians cannot conceive of Ukraine as a state in opposition to their country as a member of Nato.

Even most Nato officials agree that realpolitik dictates that Russia's rights to Black Sea access must be respected, raising the prospect that Ukraine might have to leave the peninsula in Russian hands before it can ever be considered for joining Nato.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 10 Sep 2008 23:26

Nervous EU offers Ukraine hope for the future but no seat at the table
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4719154.ece

Charles Bremner in Paris
Europe offered a closer bond to Ukraine and warned Russia to keep its hands off its southwestern neighbour yesterday. The EU stopped short, however, of promising Kiev the membership for which it yearns.

The spectre of new Russian pressure on Ukraine loomed over an EU summit with its President, Viktor Yushchenko, chaired by President Sarkozy of France a day after he extracted a Russian promise to pull back troops in Georgia.

“In the eyes of Europe, the territorial integrity of Ukraine is absolutely non-negotiable,” Mr Sarkozy said. He added that President Medvedev had given him no indication of malicious intent towards Ukraine when they met in Moscow on Monday.

Mr Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, presented Ukraine with a compromise from EU states, which cannot agree on whether to offer eventual membership. Kiev is to have an association agreement next year and the EU acknowledged “the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice”. “This accord does not close any avenues,” Mr Sarkozy said. “It is the maximum that we could do and I believe that it is already an essential step.”

Germany, the Benelux countries and Italy had resisted a firm commitment, worrying about the instability of Ukraine and damaging relations with Moscow. The former Soviet Republic, which has a population of 46 million, is in the midst of political upheaval after the collapse of a shaky coalition between President Yushchenko and Yuliya Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister, last week.

Britain is among those backing eventual Ukrainian membership. “It is important that Europe’s leaders make clear that we are determined on a long-term relationship with Ukraine with membership as a long-term goal,” David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said at the weekend. The pro-Western Government of Kiev is counting on an anchor with the EU as it comes under pressure from a resurgent Kremlin over its eight million ethnic Russian citizens, notably those in the strategic, Russian-populated Crimean region.

President Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, his mentor and Prime Minister, have said repeatedly that Russia is ready to intervene to protect its compatriots everywhere, as it did last month in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Olli Rehn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner, said Ukraine could become Russia’s next target if it was not offered membership. A conflict over Ukraine, a country nearly the size of France, would be more dangerous than the brief war in the tiny nation of Georgia, EU officials said.

Mr Yushchenko invoked fears about Sevastopol, the Crimean port that is leased by Russia as a base for its Black Sea Fleet. “There is no real counterbalance to the prevailing power in the region, so it is important that the EU design an effective mechanism so that it does not become a threat to security,” he said.

Kiev has been planning for full EU membership by 2020. Even the pro-Russian population of its east is not opposed to joining, but is not keen on the Nato alliance, which President Yushchenko also wants to enter. Nato has delayed a decision on Ukrainian and Georgian membership, a step seen in Moscow as the ultimate US-led provocation in its “near abroad”.

President Yushchenko called the agreement an historic step by the EU, which would likely end in membership. “It is the first step in a long road that was taken in the 1990s by all the [Eastern] states which have since become members,” he said.

Other Ukrainian officials voiced disappointment. Andriy Veselovsky, the Kiev Ambassador to the EU, said: “At this point the European Union is not ready to give what we want, because the European Union did not acquire a concerted position.”

Mr Sarkozy insisted that Europe had taken an historic step by recognising the European destiny of Ukraine. “I have always considered it part of Europe,” he said.

The French President nevertheless irritated the Ukrainians by switching the venue of the long-scheduled summit at the last minute to Paris from Évian on Lake Geneva. His 5am return to Paris from Tbilisi had made it “a bit complicated” to leave again immediately for the lakeside resort, he said.

Mr Sarkozy acknowledged that his talks in the Kremlin had been tough. It took four hours to extract a Russian commitment to observe the terms of the Georgian ceasefire, which he negotiated on August 12. Russia has now agreed to pull its forces out of the Georgian heartland within a month. At one stage Mr Sarkozy reached for his jacket and started to leave, telling the Russians he had “no plan B”, the President told reporters.

Mr Sarkozy, whose approval ratings have leapt since he threw himself into diplomacy in the summer, said that partnership talks between the EU and Russia could resume next month if the pullback was implemented. Brussels suspended the talks in response to Moscow invading Georgian territory.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby svinayak » 10 Sep 2008 23:34

Y. Kanan wrote:Ukraine's president seems eager to provoke a confrontation with Russia. By threatening to kick the Russians out of Sevastopol (even before their lease expires in 2017) and attempting to sideline the pro-Russian elements in his own democratically elected gov't, Yushchenko is obviously chafing at the bit. Charging your own prime minister with treason because she doesn't back an ill-conceived resolution is quite a reckless move, guaranteed to anger the Russians (and pro-Russian Ukrainians) living in the country.

Yushchenko's no fool - he must have good reason to believe the US will back him militarily when civil war and/or war w/Russia breaks out. I feel the Russians are being sucked into a far bigger trap than Georgia was.

At first, I didn't believe the conspiracy theories that the US deliberately engineered the Georgia war to weaken Russia. But now Ukraine's pro-western puppet Yushchenko has, like Sakashivilli, suddenly and inexplicably gone bananas. It doesn't make sense unless he's got strong US backing and encouragement.

One could see this unfolding last year during the G8 summit. A strong anti_russia front in US wanted to boycott the G8 in Moscow. After that they have plotted to create problems in the periphery. Current events are just the followup. Confrontation to the brink to find out who will blink first.
Only superpowers can play this game and it is not for the ordinary mortals.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 11 Sep 2008 03:53

US will blink this time. Law of natural justice will catch up with them, as they are on the wrong this time.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby shyamd » 11 Sep 2008 05:21

Western mili intel has been submitting their reports on the georgian war, and especially on russian military. They have raised issue's such as lack of high precision systems (due to GLONASS not existing) and the fact that most of the weapons were out-dated. US Defence Intel Agency in the capital to study some of the tactical missiles that were used by the Russians. Bombs aimed at cement factories, barely damaged their furnaces. Bombs aimed at a bridge, damaged the railings.

SU24, SU25 and Tu22M were ineffective in carrying out their airstrikes against Georgian infrastructure such as bridges, railway lines etc..

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Sanjay M » 11 Sep 2008 07:41

The more I think about it, the more it seems likely that Georgia's attack on S.Ossetia was a Whitehouse-instigated "October Surprise" intended to tip the elections in favour of McCain.

Think about it - a tiny little US-backed client state flunky, heavily dependent upon the Whitehouse for support, just happens to conveniently attack a much more powerful nation that would be sure to give a hammer-blow response. The initial media reports quickly injected the rumour that the attack was timed to coincide with the Olympics - as if some athletic event in Beijing would have really made a difference for strategic timing! Nonsense! Oh, but timing that coincides with the oncoming US elections would indeed make a difference. And clearly Obama did fall for the bait, by running to pick Old Man Biden as his running mate, fearful of being seen as weak on foreign policy. By doing so, he certainly placed himself in a position where McCain could deliver a knockout punch by picking Palin as his female running mate, which Obama had conspicuously failed to do with Hillary.

I really think that the "October Surprise" scenario seems quite plausible.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Igorr » 11 Sep 2008 10:42

Two Black Jacks have landed in Venecuela, they're taking part in exersises over Americas.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 11 Sep 2008 12:04

More on the naval implications of the Georgian fiasco and more on Igorr's report of Blackjacks in Venezuela.Russia is wasting no time at all in countering Bush's last acts of global warmongering,by sending its forces to exercise in Venzuela.If the US can station provocatively missiles in Poland,with the BS that they're there to deter Iran,there's no reason why it cannot support Chavez's govt. which is under clear subversion and hostility from the US.Great quip from Chavez about piloting one of the Blackjacks!

http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2373356
NAVAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE SOUTH OSSETIAN CRISIS
By John C. K. Daly

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Last month’s confrontation between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia had a maritime dimension that continues to expand. Russia deployed elements of its Black Sea fleet to Georgia’s coast during its military operations and subsequently sank several Georgian naval vessels in Poti. During the clash Russia dispatched 10 vessels from Sevastopol to the Georgian coast.

Following the conflict, the United States determined to send humanitarian relief to Georgia but found its efforts constrained by the 1936 Montreux Convention. Now Moscow, clearly irritated by Washington’s intrusion into what it regards as its southern maritime frontier, has announced that it is deploying significant naval forces next month to the Caribbean for joint naval exercises with Venezuela. Kremlin spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters, "Before the end of the year, as part of a long-distance expedition, we plan a visit to Venezuela by a Russian navy flotilla” (Izvestia, September 8).

The Caribbean deployment is not insignificant, as it includes the guided missile cruiser Peter Velikii, the largest surface vessel constructed by the Russian Federation since the collapse of the USSR, along with the anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko (El Universal, September 8). Venezuelan Rear Admiral Salbatore Cammarata Bastidas said, "This is of great importance because it is the first time it is being done [in the Americas]." For Caracas, next month’s deployment is a timely riposte to the American administration’s announcement earlier this year that it was reactivating its Fourth Fleet, last deployed in southern hemisphere waters during World War Two.

In the aftermath of the South Ossetian confrontation, when the U.S. decided to dispatch humanitarian aid by sea to Georgia, it found its initial efforts constrained by the 1936 Montreux Convention, whose 29 articles limit the number of foreign warships that non-Black Sea powers can send through the Turkish Straits to no more than nine vessels with a total of 45,000 aggregate tons. Moreover, they could remain there for no longer than three weeks. The United States had initially considered dispatching the hospital ships USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy, both converted oil tankers, but as each displaced 69,360 tons, they fell outside the Montreux convention limits. While Washington chafed under the restrictions, there was little it could do.

Last month NATO dispatched four ships from its Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 to the Black Sea for an exercise scheduled last October. The flotilla included Spain's SPS Almirante Don Juan de Borbon, Germany's FGS Luebeck, Poland's ORP General Kazimierz Pulaski, and the USS Taylor. On August 22 the USS McFaul guided-missile destroyer loaded with humanitarian aid passed the Bosporus headed for Georgia with supplies such as blankets, hygiene kits and baby food, to be followed two days later by the USCGC Dallas cutter passing the Dardanelles. The USS Mount Whitney was also dispatched into the Black Sea with humanitarian aid, which it offloaded in Poti (Stars and Stripes, September 2).

Before the Montreux Convention was negotiated, both Turkey and Russia had suffered from foreign naval intervention through the Turkish Straits during and after World War One. The Gallipoli campaign was preceded by a joint Anglo-French maritime effort in March 1915 to force the Dardanelles, and the Royal Navy subsequently occupied Constantinople after the war and dispatched vessels into the Black Sea to assist anti-Bolshevik forces.

The Montreux Convention was intended to replace the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which had demilitarized the Bosporus and Dardanelles. Given their recent experience, both the Soviet Union and the Turkish Republic were interested in limiting foreign warships in the Black Sea; and for Ankara, the Montreux Convention was the first international agreement that fully acknowledged its sovereignty and position as successor to the “sick man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire. Britain, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Japan, Turkey, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia ratified the Montreux Convention, which formally recognized Turkish sovereignty over the Turkish Straits. Given that Britain at the time was the predominant naval power in the Mediterranean, the United States was so uninterested in the diplomatic conference that produced the convention that it did not even send an observer to the negotiations.

The Russian media is now reporting that Washington is negotiating with Georgia and Turkey to establish a naval base at one of Georgia’s Black sea ports in Batumi or Poti, but Ankara is reportedly carefully assessing its position in order to avoid further political tension with Moscow (Gruziya Online, September 7). In a replay of a dispute earlier this year, Russia has temporarily blocked the shipment of Turkish produce into Russia, citing sanitary concerns; and the dispute, which has cost Turkey an estimated $500 million in lost trade, has triggered speculation in the Turkish media that Russia is trying to punish Turkey for allowing U.S. warships to transit the Bosporus (Hurriyet, September 8).

For those with a sense of history, a factor behind the 1962 Cuban missile crisis was Washington’s deployment of Atlas IRBMs in Italy and Turkey, which, in the wake of the confrontation, Washington quietly agreed to remove, as the development of ballistic missile submarines, the final component of Washington’s nuclear triad, obviated the need for forward basing of nuclear missiles off Russia’s southern shore. Forty years later, Turkey, sea power, and the Caribbean as subplots in rising U.S.-Russian tensions seem as interconnected as ever.
© The Jamestown Foundation


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/11/world ... ref=slogin

Venezuela: Russian Bombers Arrive for an Exercise
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: September 10, 2008
Two Russian Tupolev bombers arrived in Venezuela for training exercises with the Venezuelan military. The bombers are TU-160s, also known as Blackjacks. They arrived ahead of joint naval maneuvers planned for this year and amid tension between Russia and Western nations over NATO naval exercises in the Black Sea. President Hugo Chávez told state television that the bombers had come at a time when the United States was reactivating plans to kill him. “What’s more, I’m going to pilot one of these,” he said of the bombers.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 11 Sep 2008 13:43



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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 11 Sep 2008 14:13

Amazing rehabilitation of Chechenya,once in ruins, by the pro-Russian leadership!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 25588.html
How Moscow's hard man changed the face of Grozny

By Mary Dejevsky in Grozny
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Children play in one of Grozny's streets which once lay in ruins

Russia warns Ukraine it will retaliate over Nato

As recently as three years ago, Chechnya was racked by a vicious, chaotic war. Just two years ago, 90 per cent of its capital, Grozny, lay in ruins. You may remember the photos of devastation, the skeletal remains of public buildings, homes seemingly turned inside out, and students heroically pursuing their studies in scorched lecture rooms.


Now, the centre of Grozny is a completely new city. Almost every trace of war has been erased; the only evidence of the conflicts that tore the heart out of the city are fenced-off blocks razed to the ground and awaiting new development. It is almost possible to pretend that more than 10 years and two wars never happened. The new focus combines the two unifying themes of post-war Chechnya: moderate Islam and Akhmad Kadyrov, the Chechen President assassinated in 2004 and father of the current President, Ramzan Kadyrov.

This new identity is reflected in a giant mosque, extolled as the largest in Europe. Chechnya's frenetic building programme is a welcome source of employment. And there is a third item on the Grozny tourist trail: the Russian Orthodox church of the Archangel Michael. More than 100 years old, and under a conservation order, it has been rebuilt from scratch.

By day the streets may be quiet, but this is Ramadan. The traffic jams grow as dusk approaches. Cafes and restaurants open up and the city starts to spring into – normal – life. I saw no woman without a headscarf, an unusual site in somewhere that used to be in the secular Soviet Union, but none with her face covered either.

With the fighting that marked much of Vladimir Putin's presidency consigned to the past, the Russian authorities felt confident enough about security yesterday to fly in a group of 30 or so Western Russia-watchers for an afternoon of sightseeing and a face-to-face meeting at his sprawling estate, with the 31-year-old – soon to be 32 – President, Mr Kadyrov.

Oil-rich Chechnya has had an appearance of calm pretty much since the appointment of Mr Kadyrov in March 2007, on the say-so of President Putin. The region, designated a republic within the Russian Federation, was then left largely to its own devices, with Moscow's single proviso being that it retained control of the natural resources. Otherwise, Mr Kadyrov has had a free rein to run the place as his own fiefdom, which included pursuing his own vendettas, tracking down wartime enemies and, it is alleged, creaming off millions from the lucrative reconstruction contracts.

Chechnya has independence in all but name, a solution that its war-weary people seem to find acceptable. This will be tested on 12 October, when elections will be held for the Chechen parliament. But Mr Kadyrov has been none too fussy about the methods he uses to keep order, and Moscow has pumped in money, whereas under the former president, Aslan Maskhadov, Chechnya became a lawless vortex of rival warlords.

The recent war in Georgia, however, could foreshadow an end to this hitherto tolerable state of affairs – and Moscow knows this. Which may be why it took the trouble to show its foreign visitors how far Chechnya has left war behind. At a 90-minute audience with Mr Kadyrov at his estate outside Grozny yesterday, the President categorically rejected the idea that independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia would reignite the separatist movement in Chechnya. Speaking slowly for emphasis, he said: "For Chechnya, this is neither a valid nor a current issue."

He made a contradictory impression: callow and impetuous, while also battle-hardened, authoritative and, at times, soft. Scion of a religious family, his grandfather was mufti of Grozny, and references to Islam punctuate his speech. But he also speaks almost in one breath of his Russian college education, his past with "an automatic in my hand", and how he sees himself today and in the future "as a loyal servant of my people".

Chechnya may be a unique case, as Russia insists, but such issues as self-determination for ethnic minorities, national sovereignty and territorial integrity present dilemmas to any government and particular dilemmas for Russia, less than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Earlier this year, Russia declined to recognise Kosovo. This was partly because its ally Serbia objected so strongly, but it was also because of the precedent its approval might set for Chechnya. Russia's recent conflict with Georgia left Moscow's policy tied in knots. Its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states – which, it stressed set no precedent – sits uncomfortably with its strictures about Kosovo.

Peace and economic recovery seem to be keeping separatist yearnings at bay. But if the improvements in daily life lag, independence could soon exercise its attraction – and this time the separatists have a precedent they can throw back in Russia's face.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 11 Sep 2008 14:16

WASHINGTON - A senior U.S. official said today that the United States is reviewing how to help Georgia rebuild its military after it was pulverized by Russia.

U.S. officials have been reticent about discussing renewed military aid to Georgia for fear of aggravating tensions as Russia continues to occupy parts of the country. Russia has lashed out at the United States for earlier training and supplying of Georgia’s armed forces.

Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman told lawmakers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that the Department of Defense is sending an evaluation team to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, this week.

[b "We will review how the United States will be able to support the reconstruction of Georgia’s economy, infrastructure and armed forces," he said.[/b]

Lawmakers at the hearing pressed Edelman and Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried to outline how the United States will respond to Russia’s new assertiveness.

The officials responded in broad terms without disclosing any new actions the U.S. plans to take to punish Russia for the invasion.

"Our strategic response must include the longer-term consequences of the invasion of Georgia for our relationship with Russia," Fried said.

He said that the United States views Russia’s power as waning, not rising, noting projections of declining population and the heavy dependence of its economy for growth on natural resources. He warned that Russia would suffer from international isolation.

"Russia is not as well placed to prosper in isolation as was the Soviet Union," he said. "Russia is ill-placed to have a hostile relationship with the world.


In a symbolic move Monday, President George W. Bush canceled a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Russia that was until recently viewed as an opening to ameliorate rising tensions.

Bush had sent the agreement to Congress for approval in May, after a much-heralded signing by the two nations that capped two years of tough negotiations. On Monday, Bush officially pulled it back.

"We make this decision with regret," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement read by spokesman Sean McCormack. "Unfortunately, given the current environment, the time is not right for this agreement."

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the decision was "erroneous and politicized" and would deal a blow to the U.S.-Russian cooperation and damage U.S. interests.

"The agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy was equally beneficial to Russia and the United States, so the decision to opt out of it will hurt the U.S. nuclear industries no less than Russia’s," the statement said.

The decision was to punish Moscow for its invasion and brief war last month with its tiny, West-leaning neighbor, Georgia. It was the culmination of a series of U.S. actions, including a recently announced $1 billion foreign aid package for Georgia and a visit to that country by Vice President Dick Cheney. The nuclear deal had been highly unlikely to win approval in Congress this year anyway, but Bush decided to withdraw it to make a louder statement.

Moscow, though, might not be much inclined to hear it.


...more....
US reviewing military aid to Georgia

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 11 Sep 2008 15:19

If Iran and Syria falls to NATO / US, and India sides with the west, then encircling of Russia is almost complete from Finland to Eastern EU to ME to India and US might just manage China to Japan... Afterthat, it will be easy for the west to corner and isolate Russia from every angle. That would mean end of Russia for a long time to go...

U.S. says Iran won't get Russian missile system soon

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 11 Sep 2008 17:39

So thought Napoleon and Hitler too,that they could encircle Russia and chew it up at an opportune time.So too tried the British during the Great Game.What nations forget is that Russia is a country that spans two continents.From Europe to Asia,from the Baltic and Barents to the Pacific! Russia has dealt with in history attacks from both the west and east and survived and prospered.IN the US thinks that it can "encircle" Russia on all flanks,it is deceiving itself.This task is easier said than done.The fact is that even the EU countries are sharply divided over the Georgian crisis and recent polls in the Ukraine show that a majority of the people,both old and new,though wanting to join the EU,also want good relations with Russia and are afraid of the consequences of joining NATO.Dick-the-Prick Cheney was rudely snubbed in Azerbaijan,as he tried to inveigle that country into an anti-Russian strategy (details below).

Today,Russia with its vast energy and mineral wealth can afford to speak and act with the authority that its strength requires,unlike India,where an elephant acts and speaks like a mouse!

Excerpts from polls in UKraine on the Caucasus crisis.
http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2373355

SURPRISING AND CONTRADICTORY OPINIONS ON THE UKRAINIAN STREETS

By Roman Kupchinsky

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A poll conducted from 19 to 22 August by the Taylor Nelson Sofrez Ukraine agency for the newspaper Zerkalo Tyzhnia showed that in the conflict in the Caucasus Ukrainian public opinion is divided between support for Georgia and for Russia. The poll questioned 1,200 people and has an error margin of not more than 3 percent (Zerkalo Tyzhnia, August 29, 2008).

Despite the views by the younger (18-19 year-old) respondents that Russia was the aggressor in Georgia, when asked about Ukrainian membership in NATO, only 23.7 percent in this age group agreed that Ukraine should join the alliance. Overall, 63 percent of those polled by Taylor Nelson were opposed to Ukraine joining NATO. Only 3.3 percent were undecided. Some 65 percent of NATO opponents were 60 or more years old (Zerkalo Tyzhnia, August 29).

The Institute for Strategic Research poll asked the following question: “The Russian leadership has put forward the condition that in order for Russia to have good neighborly relations with Ukraine, Ukraine must renounce its intent to join NATO. What do you think, should Ukraine agree to this?” While 45.4 percent supported renouncing the goal of NATO membership, 33.6 percent replied negatively and 21 percent were unable to answer.

A third poll conducted by the Razumkov Sociological Center in Kyiv found that the majority of Ukrainians believed that the use of force in Georgia by both Russia and Georgia was illegal. Only 10.3 percent of those polled felt that the use of force by Georgia was legitimate while 60.5 percent did not (Ukrayinska Pravda, September 2).

Cheney,typifying the "Ugly American" was snubbed in style.
http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/i ... 808b.shtml
AZERBAIJAN: VP CHENEY WAS REPORTEDLY LESS THAN DIPLOMATIC IN BAKU
9/08/08

It seems that US Vice President Dick Cheney caused a scene during his recent visit to Azerbaijan when his hosts declined to follow his script.

Over the past few days, details have leaked out that indicate that Cheney’s September 3 visit to Baku was a spectacular diplomatic failure. [For additional information see the Eurasia Insight archive]. A report published by the Russian daily Kommersant, which cited sources within President Ilham Aliyev’s administration, said the Cheney visit started with a snub, as neither Aliyev nor Prime Minister Artur Rasizade were at the airport to greet the US vice president, who was the highest ranking American official ever to visit Azerbaijan. Instead First Deputy Prime Minister Yagub Eyubov and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov greeted Cheney.

The visit apparently went down hill from there. Cheney publicly expressed Washington’s strong commitment to ensuring the continued flow of energy westward from the Caspian Basin to Turkey along routes not under the control of Russia. Privately, he pressed Aliyev to make a firm commitment to sending Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via the long planned Nabucco pipeline. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Aliyev politely declined to take Cheney up on the offer.

"Aliyev made it clear that he values [good] relations with Washington, but that he is not about to start an argument with Russia," the Kommersant report said, adding that Azerbaijani aides described Cheney as becoming "extremely irritated" by Baku’s decision to adopt a "wait-and-see position."

Compounding Cheney’s displeasure, immediately following the discussions Aliyev reportedly telephoned Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev to inform the Kremlin about the substance of the US energy stance. Mammadyarov later departed for Moscow for further diplomatic discussions.

In a fit of pique, Cheney skipped a reception held in Baku in his honor, according to Azerbaijani sources.

Since Russia’s incursion into Georgia, local political experts have wondered about the geopolitical impact on Azerbaijan. The entire US energy strategy in the Caspian Basin is predicated on Azerbaijan’s unwavering commitment to the West. The commitment now looks more fragile than ever, and the Cheney visit may well have done more harm than good, in terms of retaining Azerbaijan’s allegiance to Washington’s energy agenda.

PS:There's even opposition within the US Congress over Bush's anti-Russian agenda!Ha!Ha!Ha!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... gress.html

US administration's stance on Georgia attacked by Congress
The US Government's position on the Russia and Georgia conflict has been attacked in Congress by politicians who are concerned about a deterioration of Washington's relationship with Moscow.

By Tom Peterkin
Last Updated: 10:28AM BST 11 Sep 2008

US humanitarian aid is unloaded in the Georgian port of Batumi. President Medvedev accused the US of disguising arms shipments to Georgia as humanitarian aid Photo: REUTERS

Officials from the state and defence departments have had to field awkward questions from senators and members of the House of Representatives on the US's stance.

The US's promises on Georgia's Nato prospects, Georgia's failure to heed US warnings and Washington's decision to grant £571 million in aid to a country that ignored its advice are among the issues exercising critics.

Hilary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential candidate, said it was not "smart" to isolate Russia over the conflict and questioned the administration's decision to withdraw a nuclear co-operation agreement with Moscow from Congress.

Mrs Clinton also called for a commission to look into the origins of the conflict, a particularly sensitive issue given the stance of Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president.

Mr Saakashvili insists that his forces went into South Ossetia in response to Russian troop movements, whereas Russia claims Georgia started hostilities.

Dan Fried, a senior US state department official, said the Georgians "believed at the time - at least they said at the time - that they thought the Russian forces were coming through the Roki tunnel (which links Russia with South Ossetia) and they were in imminent danger."

He added: "I'm unable to tell you now whether or not this was true."

Ed Royce, a Republican from California, said: "Some argue that Nato would have been a deterrent. Well, maybe it would have, but it's just as plausible that potential Nato membership inflamed the situation."

The question marks were raised even though both presidential nominees John McCain for the Republicans and Barack Obama of the Democrats have indicated their strong support for Georgia.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 11 Sep 2008 19:03

Philip,

Thanks for that response. I know most of the history, and I know that Russians are resilient people. I am one of the well wishers for the Russians. Having met several Russians in US at work and outside work, I know that Indians and Russians share a certain degree of warmth between the people of the two nations. Also, we should never forget that India was able to survive the Americans and Chinese proxy (TSP) wars against India, because of the Russians.

Having said that, the world politics has changed. Ideologies have died and real politik is the word in current geo politics. With this in Mind, I was trying to state the importance of having good relations between India and Russia in the region. And this has to happen on the partnership basis, not on the seller - client basis. Along with this It is important for the nations in the regions of ME, India China and Central Asian to maintain a very healthy relationships amongst themselves. These nations need to understand that regional stability is very important for the growth of the region in all aspects. Any wars in the region could de-stabilize lots of things. We need to work towards preventing US/NATO Aggression on any of the nations in our region.

For this to happen, India, Russia and China along with Iran and other nations need to co-operate effectively. When I wrote my previous post, I was trying to press upon the need for these nations to co-operate at every level, I was implying that, but in cryptic words.

I am surprised to see a small nations like Israel warning Russia on arms sales, while they do everything they want with the approval of Unkle. I would like to live in a world, where the nations are not threatened by the US/NATO forces, but rather live in Harmony with each other. Only Russia can help create such a world, but they need to build alliance in the region. On equal terms with some KEY nations and at certain level with other nations. But co-operation in the region amongst the nations is essential and the need of the hour.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 11 Sep 2008 22:34

IMO, Depending too heavily on strategic weaponary can be a sign of weakness in the long run. Maintaining Conventional warfare superiority is a must.

Russia Boosts Defense Budget to Record $50 Billion (Update2)
By Maria Levitov and Lyubov Pronina

Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Russia, which fought a five-day war with neighboring Georgia last month, will boost defense spending 26 percent to a post-Soviet record next year as it adds weapons and raises salaries, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said.

Defense spending, including arms purchases and pay raises, will reach 1.28 trillion rubles ($50 billion) in 2009, Kudrin told lawmakers in Moscow today. The increase was approved before the conflict with Georgia, said Kudrin, who is also a deputy prime minister.

Russia sent warplanes and troops into Georgia on Aug. 8 for the country's biggest foreign military operation since the Cold War. The invasion followed a Georgian attack on the Russia-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia.

``Some of the extra funding may be spent on intelligence gathering and communication devices, which Russia's armed forces had problems with during the war with Georgia,'' said Andrei Frolov, a defense expert at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. ``The main focus will still be on the strategic forces,'' Frolov said.

The bulk of non-payroll spending will go toward funding the Topol intercontinental ballistic missile program, upgrading nuclear-weapons-equipped Tu-160 bombers and completing the Borei- class submarine Yuriy Dolgoruky, Frolov said.

Kudrin said the new weapons component of the budget will advance 30 percent, though he declined to give exact figures because that information is classified by the military.

New-Found Self-Confidence

``Russia's new-found self-confidence, supported by revenue from its natural resources, is allowing it to assert itself more on the international stage,'' the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its Yearbook 2008, published in June.

World military spending totaled $1.3 trillion in 2007, or 2.5 percent of the global GDP and a six percent increase on 2006, SIPRI said.

Russia ranks eighth this year with $36.7 billion in defense spending, after the U.S., Britain, France, China, Japan, Germany and Saudi Arabia, according Jane's Industry Quarterly published Sept. 3. The U.S. is spending $696 billion this year and China $58 billion, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Levitov in Moscow at mlevitov@bloomberg.net Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at lpronina@bloomberg.net;

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 11 Sep 2008 22:46

US denies assurances to Russia on Georgia in NATO

WARSAW, Poland: Russia's foreign minister said Thursday that the United States has assured Moscow that Washington will scrap Georgia's NATO aspirations if it attacks South Ossetia. But the U.S. State Department denied any knowledge of such assurances.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Warsaw that "high level" U.S. officials have said if Georgia undertakes "an armed action against Ossetia, then it will scrap their plans for NATO membership."

He gave no further details.

In response to Lavrov's comments, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "I have no idea what the basis of that statement is."

War broke out after Georgian forces launched an offensive Aug. 7 to retake breakaway South Ossetia. Russian forces then routed Georgia's military and drove deep into Georgia.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 12 Sep 2008 02:32

The assurance should have been taken in writing. The way, Russia got a written private assurance to dismantle Jupiter missiles from Turkey during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Sanjay M » 12 Sep 2008 02:41

Since the immediate clash in the Caucasus is over, I propose this thread be re-named "US-Russia Tensions", because these tensions originally triggered by the Caucasus clash are now spilling over into various arenas.

Here is one example:

Russia's Venezuela Foray: Tit for Tat? (TIME)

I think Russia's cultivation of Chavez is much more sensible than Soviet cultivation of Castro ever was. Cuba was always a piddly little island nation, easily isolatable from the rest of Latin America, whereas Venezuela is a much larger nation, with much more resources. Crucially for the Russians, Venezuela is a major oil-producer, which fits in with Putin's petro-monopoly strategy.

I wonder if the Russians would sell them BrahMos?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 12 Sep 2008 12:01

Some one was talking about good people still being in USA.... Well here you go...

Palin: U.S. might have to go to war with Russia

By Jill Zuckman | Washington Bureau
September 12, 2008
WASHINGTON — In her first interview since becoming the Republican nominee for vice president, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said the U.S. might have to go to war with Russia under certain circumstances, and she firmly rejected questions about her readiness for office.

Palin, who returned to Alaska to see her oldest son off to Iraq on Thursday, sat down with "ABC World News" anchor Charles Gibson for a series of interviews. The first interviews aired on "World News" and "Nightline," and the final clips will air Friday on "Good Morning America," "World News" and a special edition of "20/20."

Like Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, Palin has taken a hard line on Russian aggression. When asked if, under the NATO agreement, the U.S. would need to go to war with Russia if it invades Georgia again, she said, "Perhaps so.

"I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help," Palin said. "For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable."

Noting that she had recently spoken by telephone with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, she added: "We have got to keep our eyes on Russia."

Palin said she favored NATO membership for the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine and that membership does not necessarily have to lead to war.

"It doesn't have to lead to war and it doesn't have to lead, as I said, to a cold war, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries," she said.

When McCain tapped Palin to be his running mate, he caught the nation by surprise.

Palin has faced scrutiny for her short résumé as a governor of just 20 months. But voters have responded to her on the stump, and McCain has seen his crowds, coffers and poll numbers swell in the last two weeks. A Sarah Palin action figure has even gone on the market.

She brushed off questions about her readiness to assume the vice presidency. "Can you look the country in the eye," Gibson asked, "and say I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president but perhaps president of the United States?"

"I do, Charlie," she said. "And on Jan. 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we'll be ready. I'm ready."

Gibson pressed her on whether she asked herself if she was experienced enough or knowledgeable enough about international affairs.

"I didn't hesitate," she said. "I answered him [McCain] yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way, of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink. So I didn't blink then even when asked to serve as his running mate."

Over the course of the interview, Palin expressed strong support for Israel's right to defend itself, expressed no reservations about possibly crossing into Pakistan without its government's approval to pursue terrorists, and seemed unfamiliar with the "Bush Doctrine."

Asked whether she had ever traveled out of the country, she said she has been to Canada and Mexico, as well as to visit troops in Kuwait and Germany. She said she has never met a foreign head of state but noted other vice presidential candidates in history had not either.

"I don't think we can second-guess what Israel feels it has to do to secure its nation," she said when asked how she would respond if Israel decided to obliterate Iran's nuclear weapons facility.

Gibson also read Palin a comment she had made in church—"Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God"—and asked if she viewed the U.S. as fighting a holy war.

"I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words," Palin said, saying she was recalling Abraham Lincoln's own words.

Speaking at a deployment ceremony near Fairbanks, Palin seemed to link the war in Iraq with the 2001 terrorist attacks. Speaking in her role as governor, Palin talked about the war to an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son, Track.

"You'll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans," she told the soldiers. "America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before Sept. 11, 2001."

In the interview, Gibson asked whether her son is on a mission from God. She said she didn't know.

"I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie," Palin said. "What I know is that my son has made a decision. I am so proud of his independent and strong decision he has made, what he decided to do and serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer."

Tribune news services contributed to this report

jzuckman@tribune.com


more links here...

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jrC ... hFRAIdpoIg

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 12 Sep 2008 12:10

Russian leaders talk big, but army and economy are weak

By Tom Lasseter | McClatchy Newspapers
MOSCOW — Russia's military is riddled with weakness. Its equipment is outdated. Its technology is decades behind the West. And its capacity for battlefield communications and intelligence gathering is terrible.

In short, Russia has a mid- to late-20th century military in a 21st century world.

That and more was revealed during Russia's war with U.S.-backed Georgia last month, when its troops routed the small Georgian army but looked woefully short of the fighting power of nations like the United States.

And to top things off, Russia's economy has recently been slammed by the double whammy of a plummeting stock market and falling currency as the effects of the global economic crunch were compounded by worried Western investors withdrawing billions of dollars in the aftermath of the Georgian war.

Instead of pausing, the Kremlin has charged ahead, warning and threatening the United States and its allies at every turn. Brushing aside American predictions that Moscow would isolate itself from the world by invading Georgia, the Kremlin this week announced joint training exercises with Venezuela — where President Hugo Chavez is an avowed foe of U.S. policy abroad.

News on Wednesday that two nuclear-capable Russian bombers, reportedly without nuclear weapons, had landed in Venezuela punctuated both the uncertainty and the gravity of the situation: Was this just a political jab by Moscow leaders, or is the Kremlin signaling it is willing to risk a fight despite its obvious weaknesses?

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has publicly said he has no desire for conflict. Russian generals under his government's command, meanwhile, say they might target U.S. missile defense shield sites in eastern Europe with ballistic missiles.

"It's a very dangerous time," said James Townsend Jr., who from 2003 to 2006 was the director of European and NATO policy for the secretary of defense and is now director of the international security program at the Atlantic Council of the United States, a think tank. "It's made dangerous by uncertainty, it's made dangerous by the possibility of miscalculation."

Russia observers differ on the implications of the standoff.

Vladimir Dvorkin, a retired Russian major general who ran a premier military think tank from 1993 to 2001, said the maneuvers by the United States and Russia after the Georgian war have been political posturing, and the idea that Russia and the West would get into an armed confrontation is "absurd."

Some pro-Western analysts, however, say that Russian leadership is testing how far it can go in reclaiming parts of the former Soviet Union, or at least reducing Western influence in the region, at a time when the United States is perceived as being weak and Europe divided. They also say the Kremlin is in danger of overplaying its hand.

During the fighting in Georgia, Russian officers in the field frequently relied on cell phones or old radios, and they were unable to establish tactical command centers close to the front. The air force and ground forces were badly out of synch, and some soldiers complained to reporters that they hadn't eaten in a few days.

Their American counterparts would have been able to quickly establish satellite uplinks, visual feeds from unmanned aerial drones — which the Russians weren't able to use at all — and real-time communications between all branches of the military.

The Soviet-designed T-72 tanks that rolled into Georgia — there were newer tanks as well, but the T-72s seemed most prominent — are prone to breaking down and are considered several rungs below American battle tanks.

"Military equipment is very old, and at the same time it's absolutely clear that Russia has no resources to change it," said Alexander Goltz, a military analyst in Moscow. "For all of the '90s we had no money to produce new military equipment ... the whole chain of subcontractors was destroyed."

But former military officers, and officials connected with the Kremlin, emphasize that Russia is in the same league as America when it comes to nuclear missile stockpiles.


Pavel Zolotarev, a retired Russian major general and deputy director of a government-funded institute that studies the United States and Canada, reminded a reporter of nuclear realities.

"As far as general forces, the American army far surpasses the Russian army in terms of equipment," Zolotarev said. "An army is made up of different kinds of forces. If we compare the nuclear forces of these two sides, then we have parity. We can destroy each other five or six times."

Amid all the heated words, it's important to step back and see Russia for what it really is, said Robert Hunter, the U.S. ambassador to NATO under President Clinton and now a senior adviser at the RAND Corp.

"I don't believe that Russia is a great power again. ... Russia is Saudi Arabia with trees," Hunter said. "In reality, Russia is a second-rate military power and will be for some time."

Hunter said that to try to understand Russia's recent actions, it helps to keep in mind that it has felt besieged lately. Kremlin leaders have been unhappy about U.S. plans to build a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and American backing for the NATO membership of Ukraine and Georgia.

Given those tensions, Hunter said, the White House should allow the Kremlin some room to vent, as long as it doesn't go too far, and not provoke it toward bigger displays of military aggression.

"Most of it I would keep my mouth shut about," he said. "If they want to steer off to Venezuela, be my guest."


All Comments
01:09:02am 09/12/2008RVG
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I read State Dpt. and other high officials statements regarding Russia and Georgia and the policies America want to put forward; I think I could paraphrase the lead you used for this article:

"American leaders talk big, but army and economy are weak"

10:09:09pm 09/11/2008ranfranthompson
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A Cold War veteran I can say Russia today is not capable of projectiong the kind of power our Navy alone can do outside of it's borders. However if, like the article points out, you talk about nuclear weapons they can still insure mutual destruction with us.

Since the Bush team took over we have made plans to put our weapons systems in Poland and other ald Soviet Block countries. Poland being one door for invasion of the Russian Mother Land. A land war with Russia would be insane. By people numbers alone we would lose, if after a nuclear exchange we had any troops left to send.

Georgia was a part of Russia for over 200 years. The Black Sea is the Russian and a few border states sea - let Russia and their neighbors work this out themselves.

The hawks talk about using nuclear weapons against Iran - look at the Caspian Sea and see what countries share it's coast. Would we stand by if Russia bombed a neighbor state of the Gulf of Mexico? If Russia was beating the war drum against Costa Rica threatning military action, what would our response be?

08:09:50pm 09/11/2008GerryToner
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Good thing we Americans NEVER underestimate our opponents. Like the Union VS the Confederates in the Civil War...Lee and his compatriots whipped the Union armies to a standstill with less than half the manpower...like the Filipinos in the Spanish/American War...same thing...like the North Koreans, like the Vietnamese...like the Taliban, like Osama Bin Laden...etc., etc., etc. ...nooo...WE NEVER underestimate the opponent...

07:09:25pm 09/11/2008James_Macdonald
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Are you people daft Russia has in excess of 12,000 deliverable nuclear weapons.

Russia is also the largest country in the world. We could operate out to the ends of our supply lines and beyond ... and Russia would still have more land.

"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia...."

07:09:58pm 09/11/2008Personanongrata
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Russian leaders talk big, but army and economy are weak

"I don't believe that Russia is a great power again. ... Russia is Saudi Arabia with trees," Hunter said. "In reality, Russia is a second-rate military power and will be for some time."

Are you people daft Russia has in excess of 12,000 deliverable nuclear weapons. The readiness and material conditions of its conventional armed forces is a mute-point.

Just like a good main-stream-media-mega-phone catapulting the propaganda for the War Party.

06:09:17pm 09/11/2008HH
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Exactly the same conclusion that Napoleon (in 1800s) and Adolf Hitler (in 1930s) came to. Look what happened to their so called "modern" armies!..they were annihilated (Napoleon at Borodino and Hitler at Stalingrad and Kursk) by the Russians. This article was laughable...a joke. Who paid these clowns for such stupid commentaries. Saakashvilli was very confident...even giddy...that he could take on the Russians and prevail. The Russians not only routed his "modern" army (trained, equipped and supported by...yours truly the American tax payers) but was on the verge and could have taken over his entire country in less than a week. Our "modern" army couldn't defeat the rag tag talibans in Afghanistan...we barely pulled it off in Iraq by bribing and employing the former insurgents. The reality is the Russians have enough nuclear weapons to destroy us and the rest of the world, and we shouldn't be so arrogant and naive to ignore that fact.

renukb
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 12 Sep 2008 12:15

Georgia's Saakashvili warns NATO on Russia
By STEVE GUTTERMAN – 7 hours ago

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili urged NATO on Thursday not to push his country away in the wake of Moscow's military campaign, warning that showing weakness would cause a "never-ending story" of Russian aggression.

In an interview with The Associated Press before a visit by NATO leaders next week, Saakashvili said Russia invaded Georgia to keep the ex-Soviet republic out of the Western alliance.

"If NATO sends a sign of weakness — and clearly this invasion was intended to deter, to scare NATO away — if NATO gets scared away, then this will be a never-ending story," Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili has angered Russia by seeking NATO membership for Georgia. The alliance has promised Georgia will eventually join, and a review of its request for a road map to membership is scheduled for December.

He suggested that keeping Georgia out of NATO because of increasing Russian control over South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia, would be precisely the result the Kremlin intended — and a recipe for forceful intervention elsewhere.

"People are saying, 'Georgia has conflicts, so maybe Georgia cannot be accepted, but maybe we can accept Ukraine.' But if you put it this way, you automatically are going to get conflict in Ukraine."

Saakashvili said NATO nations must stand together and expressed confidence that Russia's use of what Western governments condemned as disproportionate force had strengthened support from some alliance members for Georgian membership.

He said Russia's actions were aimed at "shaking the foundations of the alliance and their decision-making process."

The Kremlin has accused the United States of encouraging Saakashvili to wage war against separatist South Ossetia and of moving to rebuild Georgia's military following the fighting. Saakashvili said he is committed to peaceful solutions to Georgia's territorial disputes and is not seeking robust military aid from the United States.

"We don't expect to get anything from the U.S., we haven't got anything recently from the U.S. and we will not be getting any large-scale hardware or military material assistance from the U.S.," he said. "All this talk about Americans rearming Georgia, or others coming in and rearming Georgia has been just part of the propaganda."

The U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday that it would send an assessment team to Georgia this week to help determine its needs as a way of showing U.S. support for its security.

Saakashvili denied Russian claims that U.S. military aid, which included training Georgian forces, was instrumental in emboldening Georgia to try to retake South Ossetia by force on Aug. 7.

"No matter what kind of theoretical assistance we could have got from anybody, there is no way Georgia can fight wars with Russia," he said.

In Moscow on Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin aggressively defended the invasion, saying Russia had to act when Georgia attacked South Ossetia. Russian forces repelled the offensive and drove deep into Georgia before withdrawing most of the troops and tanks late last month following a cease-fire deal.

Russia has pledged to withdraw its remaining forces still positioned outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia within a month, but says it will keep thousands of troops in the separatist regions themselves for the foreseeable future. It has also recognized them as independent nations, deepening the confrontation with Georgia and the West.

Saakashvili contends that Georgia was acting in self-defense amid increasing Russian support for the separatists and indications of imminent aggression.

"At a certain moment it was clear that the country was facing an existential threat," he said.

He reiterated his promise that Georgia will gain control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but said it would rely on legal mechanisms and pressure from the international community to do so.

Philip
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 12 Sep 2008 12:23

Putin clears the air.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 27110.html

Vladimir Putin: 'Georgia? We couldn't just let Russia get a bloody nose'

In a blunt three-hour interview over lunch, Vladimir Putin turned the air blue and denied claims he is building a new Soviet empire as he defended his 'embattled and encircled' country

Mary Dejevsky in Sochi
Friday, 12 September 2008

Vladimir Putin gives a commanding performance for the world's leading Russia watchers at his lunch in Sochi

Whether prime Minister or President, the man holding forth across the vast dining table was unmistakably Vladimir Putin. Wagging his finger and occasionally clenching his fist, the man who many believe retains the real power in Russia denied that the world was entering a new Cold War, rejected claims that he wanted to restore the Soviet empire and insisted that a fresh arms race in Europe was avoidable.

His immediate concern, he made clear, was to defend his country's much-criticised action in Georgia. He stressed that Russia had no choice. "They attacked South Ossetia with missiles, tanks, heavy artillery and ground troops. What were we supposed to do?"

If his country had not invaded, he said, it would have been like Russia "getting a bloody nose and hanging its head down", and there would be a "second blow" into the north Caucasus.

Reminding his guests that he had been at the Olympics in Beijing when the crisis broke out, Mr Putin said he was "astonished, astounded," by the world media silence on the Georgian aggression. "What did you expect us to do? Respond with a catapult? We punched the aggressor in the face, as all the military text books prescribe."

For three-and-a-half hours yesterday, he juggled knives, forks, a succession of elegantly full plates and question upon question from some of the world's leading Russia-watchers on everything from the conflict in the Caucasus to his relations with his successor in the Kremlin.

It was a commanding performance that began with an forcefully worded statement on Georgia for the benefit of Russian television cameras and moved on to an enthusiastic discussion of his new role and the excitement of learning all over again. The only sign of his new status was that a similar lunch for foreign guests last year was held in an enormous marquee in the grounds of the presidential summer residence; this year it was at a VIP complex in this Russian resort which will host the Winter Olympics in 2014.

A troupe of whispering waiters offered discreet service under the restored dome of the former sanatorium, now an exclusive holiday destination for Russia's elite. When the diners sat down they faced a starter of smoked duck and bitter orange sauce together with a rank of four glasses, local mineral water, cranberry juice, as well as red and white wines.

Mr Putin responded angrily to accusations that Moscow had used disproportionate force in Georgia, saying Russian troops were not sent into South Ossetia for 36 hours after the initial attack. Russian forces then unleashed an aerial bombardment, tanks and ground troops but not before Georgia had captured the southern part of South Ossetia up to and including the suburbs of its capital, Tskhinvali, he said. He adopted an even darker tone upon mention of the Pentagon's missile shield. After accusing the US of acting like "a Roman emperor", he warned Poland and the Czech Republic against hosting US missiles. He said there was still a chance for the installations not to be activated, but warned: "Our targeting of these countries will happen as soon as these missiles are brought. Please do not instigate an arms race in Europe. It is not needed. What should we do? Sit pretty while they deploy missiles?"

He was constantly at pains to clarify where power lies in today's Russia, amid speculation at home and abroad that the new President, Dmitry Medvedev, is no more than Mr Putin's creature. On South Ossetia, Mr Putin said the new President took all the decisions. Mr Medvedev decided to send in the troops, and decided that Moscow would recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The former president expressed considerable sympathy for Mr Medvedev. It was "unfortunate" he said, that Mr Medvedev had faced such a crisis so early in his presidency. There had been a real chance to make a fresh start Mr Medvedev – a "convinced liberal and democrat, modern in outlook – had had to show a "tough face".

Mr Putin spoke about tackling hitherto unsolved problems in the Russian economy and Moscow's relations with almost every country represented, including Britain, which he had accused of harbouring known criminals and individuals involved in terrorism. "OK," he said, "they have the protection of Brtish justice, but why are they allowed to use this haven as a launching pad for anti-Russian activity?"

He was keen to draw a distinction between the conflict in the Caucasus and Russia's relations with other former Soviet satellites, as he continually denied any imperial ambitions on the part of the Kremlin. He noted that Russia had border treaties with most of these countries which acknowleged their sovereignty. "Today there are no ideological contradictions; there is no basis for a Cold War," he said.

On Ukraine and its possible future membership of Nato, Mr Putin warned that there was no public majority in the country itself in support of this. He scornfully denounced the architects of the so-called orange revolution, saying the leadership was "divided and chaotic". He joked about accusations that Ukraine's Prime Minister, Julia Tymoshenko, was siding with pro-Russian elements. The idea that the abrasively anti-Russian politician had changed sides prompted laughter and a roll of the eyes. "Heavens above," he said. "What have we come to now?"

The one-time head of the rebranded KGB, the FSB, bemoaned what he described as Russia being "embattled and encircled" by a "hostile West", accompanying his compaints with occasional sighs of frustration. Mr Putin said that Russia strongly opposed Nato membership for its western neighbour but for the first time said that if the Ukrainian people voted to join Nato, "that would be their decision". In which case, "so be it", he added. This was a sharp change from his position two years ago when he accepted Ukraine might join the EU but expressed outright opposition to it joining Nato.

The anger and industrial language on display for a domestic TV audience gave way to a more measured performance after the cameras departed and food was served. Unfettered by aides and without his security men who had accompanied him into the banquet hall, he fielded questions openly, calling journalists by name. This time last year, Mr Putin had seemed demob happy and almost disengaged. At this meeting, he seemed particularly intent on his new job as Prime Minister which he presented as being mainly responsible for Russia's economy.

Russia was facing problems today, he said, which demanded new solutions. "The solutions of the past wouldn't do." State infrastructure, housing, health and education all needed to be overhauled. This represented an unusual admission that Russia was now lagging behind in areas that the Soviet Union had excelled.

He reserved particular hostility for the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, who recently toured former Soviet states. "There is no more Soviet threat but they are trying to resurrect it," said Mr Putin.


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