Archive for the ‘Bucharest’ Category

NATO confronting new threats

April 2, 2008
By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

BUCHAREST, Romania – NATO‘s latest security worries go far beyond Taliban fighters or al-Qaida extremists: They include computer hackers, threats to global energy supplies and climate change profiteers.
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World leaders gathered in Bucharest for this week’s NATO summit are debating what role the trans-Atlantic alliance can play in containing “cyberterrorists,” “hacktivists” and other emerging menaces that experts concede are untraditional, but still potentially lethal.

NATO needs to gear up for “iWar” — systematic attacks on the Web that could disrupt commerce worldwide by using crippling computer worms to shut down consumer online services such as Internet banking — warns Johnny Ryan, a researcher with the Institute of International and European Affairs.

“iWar will proliferate quickly and can be waged by anyone with an Internet connection,” Ryan cautioned in an analysis for NATO.

“In the short term, iWar poses a gathering threat to NATO members,” he said. “NATO must approach the problem as an immediate threat and strive to develop practical defensive cooperation.”

NATO member Estonia suffered a series of paralyzing and economically devastating cybercrime attacks last year that it blamed on Russia, which has denied involvement.

The attacks “raise questions about the alliance’s ability to protect its newest members,” said Stanley Kober, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Securing vulnerable energy infrastructure may be an even more pressing concern, NATO officials said Wednesday as the summit got under way.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been pushing for a new “strategic concept” that would define the alliance’s role in dealing with the threat.

“Many of these challenges will not trigger a classical military response. But they will require allies to support each other — politically, economically, and perhaps also militarily,” de Hoop Scheffer told a security forum in Brussels, Belgium, last month.

His spokesman, James Appathurai, told reporters Wednesday that the 26 NATO allies hoped this week to lay the groundwork for a new blueprint on how to tackle evolving security challenges.

Energy has also become a worry for NATO as Russia tightens control of its most important natural gas fields. Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy monopoly, controls key pipelines that supply gas to Western Europe.

The U.S. is prodding NATO to take a larger role in energy security — something Washington considers a major post-Cold War menace.

“I think there’s an increasing recognition in the United States that these are growing issues,” said Stephen Larrabee, a senior security analyst for the RAND Corp. think tank.

Climate change — already a major concern on a wide range of fronts — is starting to preoccupy NATO as well.

De Hoop Scheffer says the alliance may have to be ready to protect food and water supplies if global warming makes them scarce and tensions create enough economic or political instability to nudge nations to the brink of war.

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana gave a bleak assessment in a March 3 report warning that climate change threatens to undermine international security.

“It is important to recognize that the risks are not just of a humanitarian nature — they also include political and security risks that directly affect European interests,” the report says, warning: “Unmitigated climate change … will lead to unprecedented security scenarios.”

But any attempt to push the new threats to the forefront likely will run into resistance from allies pressing NATO to get back to basics, said Julianne Smith, Europe program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Many countries would like to see NATO return to its core mission,” she said. “I just find it hard to believe that NATO is going to be able to reach consensus on any of these issues.”

NATO’s core function is defined in its 1949 founding treaty, which states that all members will come to each others’ aid if any are attacked by an outside power.

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Bush Pushes Missile Defense; Heads For Meeting With Putin

April 2, 2008

BUCHAREST, Romania – President Bush says he remains committed to building a missile defense system in Europe and will press Russian President Vladimir Putin to drop his objections to the project.

Bush says he is willing to cooperate with Putin on the plans that he says is not aimed at Russia and that he plans to make that point to the outgoing Russian leader when he meets with him this week. He says the system is needed to counter potential threats from the Mideast.

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U.S. Presses For Missile Defense in Europe

Robert Burns / Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Scrambling to seal a missile defense deal this weekend, the United States is offering guarantees to assure the Russians the system isn’t a European military threat aimed at them.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, and Danish Minister ...
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, and Danish Minister of Defense, Soren Gade, are seen at a press meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, April 1, 2008. Gates said Tuesday the United States and Russia are closer to an accommodation on U.S. missile defenses in Europe. He expressed hope new steps will be agreed on in weekend talks between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Missile defense is among topics on the agenda of a NATO summit this week in Bucharest, Romania.(AP Photo/ POLFOTO, Tariq Mikkel Khan)

A key pledge: The United States won’t activate new sites in Poland and the Czech Republic unless Iran proves itself an imminent threat to Europe by test-flying a missile capable of reaching the continent.

A broader but less-specific agreement seems assured when President Bush sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. That would be a “strategic framework” for relations between the two countries after Bush and Putin leave office. 
President George W. Bush speaks during a keynote address at ... 
President George W. Bush speaks during a keynote address at the headquarters of the state-owned CEC Bank in Bucharest April 2, 2008.(ROMPRES/Mihai Poziumschi/Reuters)

Departing Putin Seeks to Stop NATO Gains , Missile Defense

March 31, 2008
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer 

MOSCOW – This week’s NATO summit in Romania will be Vladimir Putin‘s last appearance at a top-level international forum before he steps down as Russian president, still pushing to halt NATO‘s expansion into the stomping grounds of the former Soviet Union.
Natalya Vitrenko, who heads an anti-American party, left, burns ... 
Natalya Vitrenko, who heads an anti-American party, left, burns a NATO flag while rallying in front of U.S. Embassy to protest U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit and Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, March 31, 2008.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The Kremlin realizes it doesn’t have the power to force the West to reverse its recognition of Kosovo’s independence or persuade Washington to drop its plan to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

But Putin has had notable success in blocking NATO membership for its former Soviet neighbors — Ukraine and Georgia.

“Georgia’s accession into NATO will be seen here as an attempt to trigger a war in the Caucasus, and NATO membership for Ukraine will be interpreted as an effort to foment a conflict with Russia,” said Sergei Markov, a Russian parliament member with close links to the Kremlin.

Amid a litany of such threats from Moscow, some NATO members are reluctant to inflame tensions at the three-day summit that begins Wednesday in Bucharest.

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France will push U.S. on EU defense

March 31, 2008

By Jon Ward
The Washington Times
March 31, 2008

French commitments to send 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan may be conditional on U.S. support for the European Union’s defense plan that some say will shift power away from U.S. and British interests.
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President Bush leaves this morning for a six-day trip to Eastern Europe and Russia, with an itinerary built around a two-day NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania.
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NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is at the top of the agenda, but delegates also will discuss the acceptance of three new members: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.
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The 26 NATO members also will vote on whether to allow Georgia and Ukraine to begin the membership process. Russia’s opposition to the move promises to cast a long shadow on the summit.
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Mr. Bush will end his trip with a stop in the Russian coastal resort of Sochi, where he will meet with President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev to discuss missile defense and other issues.

US President George W. Bush heads to Europe Monday to push NATO ...
US President George W. Bush heads to Europe Monday to push NATO allies for more support in Afghanistan and to meet with his outgoing Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, pictured here.(AFP/Pool/File/Mikhail Klimentyev)

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Bush facing resistance to NATO expansion

March 30, 2008
By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Ahead of this week’s NATO summit, President Bush has told alliance members he wants to expand the organization to include three Balkan countries and put Ukraine and Georgia on track for membership.
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Bush probably will get some of what he wants at the meetings Tuesday through Thursday in Bucharest, Romania. But with only nine months left in his term, Bush may find his ability diminished to persuade European leaders, just as it is with Congress. That is a reflection of the president’s low public approval ratings and the anticipation of a new administration that will set policy.

European leaders know the new president could shift course on NATO. For that reason, they may seek to put aside some decision, including commitments to Ukraine and Georgia, until after Bush leaves office in January.

“I think this NATO summit is basically the ‘Goodbye George’ summit,” said Daniel Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. “A lot of the energy is looking beyond the administration.”

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President Bush and  Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace ... 
President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace following a media conference at the G8 summit site in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, July 15, 2006. Bush is beginning his farewell tour on the world stage trailed by questions about how much clout he still wields. Unpopular abroad, as he is at home, Bush nevertheless has been a commanding presence among world leaders for the past seven years. Now, with fewer than 300 days left in his term, other presidents and prime ministers are looking beyond Bush to see who will occupy his chair a year from now. Bush will meet with Putin next week in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)