Archive for the ‘CFE’ Category

Re-election Strategy or New Cold War?

October 25, 2007

By James Hackett
For Peace and Freedom
October 25, 2007

The question in Washington and European capitals this fall is whether Moscow’s aggressive behavior is the onset of a new Cold War or just a gambit to win votes in upcoming elections. The central issue is the future of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s hard-earned democracy is rapidly morphing back into an authoritarian state under President Putin, who is eager to stay in power. He probably could scrap the constitution and become president for life, but has said he will not do that. More likely, he plans to put a puppet in the presidency and rule from behind the scenes or as prime minister, and then run for president again in 2012.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

The Russian constitution adopted in 1993 states in Chapter 4, Article 81, “No one person shall hold the office of president for more than two terms in succession.” Mr. Putin was elected in 2000 and won reelection with a 71 percent landslide in 2004. He will complete two terms in 2008, so is ineligible under the constitution to run next year, but could run in 2012 or later.

Elections to the Duma will be held on December 2, after which the political parties will nominate their candidates for president. That election will be March 2, with the new president taking office May 7. Less than six months before the election Vladimir Putin stands astride Russian politics like a colossus, with polls showing an approval rate as high as 80 percent.

Videos have been released showing Mr. Putin in campaign mode, a vigorous 55, horseback riding and fishing. For months he has been taking step after step to appeal to the majority of Russians who yearn for a return to the great power status their country lost when the Soviet Union collapsed. He is taking advantage of the booming global market for energy, renationalizing the oil and gas industry and using the proceeds to rebuild Russia’s military.

For years, Russia has been developing the Topol-M mobile ballistic missile, the Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, a new multiple-warhead missile, a new evading warhead, the S-400 missile interceptor, fifth-generation fighter planes and four new missile-firing submarines. Progress was slow and funds scarce, but the recent surge in oil and gas wealth has made it possible to expand and accelerate these programs.

Now Mr. Putin is using his improving military to throw his weight around, confronting countries from Georgia to Norway. He has resumed long-range nuclear bomber flights, opposes missile defenses in Europe, claims the North Pole for Russia and suspends cooperation under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. He also sells air defense missiles to Syria and nuclear technology to Iran, suspends gas and oil shipments to pressure other countries, and threatens both to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear forces (INF) treaty and to target NATO countries by basing missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave.

Instead of joining Europe and America against the threat of militant Islam, Mr. Putin has joined with China, Iran and other authoritarian regimes against the West. All this appears to be fine with most Russians. A poll by the Yuri-Levada Institute found that 68 percent of Russians said their top priority was security. Democracy was hardly mentioned. Other results showed that 75 percent consider Russia a Eurasian state, while only 10 percent see themselves part of the West.

Mr. Putin could decide to emulate his friend, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, and make himself president for life. Amending the Russian constitution requires large majorities in both the Federation Council and Duma, which he probably could get from those rubber-stamp bodies, but it would require compomises he may not want to make. Instead, he probably will handpick a temporary successor.

Until a few weeks ago, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB officer and recent defense minister, was considered the most likely choice. But he could be a strong leader and Mr. Putin may prefer to name a more subservient caretaker for one term. That could explain why he recently chose Viktor Zubkov, a loyal 66-year old nonentity, to be prime minister. Mr. Zubkov may also be Mr. Putin’s choice to keep the president’s seat warm until he can legally return to that office in 2012.

The bluster from Moscow could be just a run-up to the elections, to show voters President Putin takes a hard line toward foreign powers he claims are encroaching on Russia’s borders. This xenophobic anti-West foreign policy seems very popular in Russia. It may also reflect a resurgence of Cold War thinking by Mr. Putin and his ex-KGB colleagues, who spent decades confronting the West.

Whether we are in for a brief pre-election spell of Russian aggressiveness or a long-term struggle with a new anti-Western axis led by Moscow and Beijing remains to be seen. We will have a better idea next spring, when Russia chooses its next president.

James Hackett is a former national security official who now lives and writes in Carlsbad, Calif.  He is a frequent contributor to the Washington Times and other national journals and newspapers.

Related:

The Problem of Putin

Putin Digs In

Cold War Redux?

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Gates, Rice Russia Bound for Treaty Discussions

October 10, 2007

Defense And Security Digest (Russia)
October  10,  2007

Presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush chose the 2+2  format  for  the  talks  on  strategic  issues  at  their  meeting  in Kennebunkport  (Maine)  this  summer.  Foreign  Minister  Sergei Lavrov and Defense  Minister  Anatoly  Serdyukov  will  represent Russia; Secretary of State  Condoleezza  Rice  and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will represent the  United States.

According to Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for  European  and  Eurasian Affairs, this will be a preliminary meeting.

Choosing   his   words   with  care,  Fried  is  apparently  trying  reduce expectations  (the  same  tactic was used before the Putin-Bush summit). On the  other  hand, the statement clearly shows that Washington is interested in  continuing  dialogue  with  Moscow on missile defense, the Conventional Forces  in  Europe  (CFE)  Treaty,  Kosovo’s  status,  the  Iranian nuclear problem,  and  arms control prospects after START I expires.

Rice and Gates are  expected in Moscow on Friday morning. Agenda of the visit is not known yet.

Russia: “We give a signal, a serious signal”

September 19, 2007

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday its decision to suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty later this year was a serious sign to the West, but stressed Moscow was not seeking confrontation.

“Our aim today is to give a signal, a serious signal, to our Western partners that things cannot go on like this,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told parliamentary hearings on the CFE.

Read the rest at:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070919/wl_nm/russia_treaty_dc_2

Obstacles ahead for missile defense

July 8, 2007

By Peter Grier
The Christian Science Monitor
July 9, 2007

Washington — You’d think deployment of US missile defenses in Europe was imminent, given the way Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin sparred over the subject at last week’s “Lobster Summit” in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Despite the goodwill generated by speedboat rides and swordfish dinners, Mr. Putin vehemently objected during the two-day meeting to US plans to push forward with antimissile sites in the Czech Republic and Poland.

In fact, US missile defense faces a long and winding European road – and Russian opposition is far from its only hurdle. The US still must strike basing deals with the Czech and Polish governments. And in Washington the Democratic-controlled Congress appears reluctant to fund the move, scrambling its near-term prospects.

“I can see money trickling to the system to keep it on life support,” says Wade Boese, director of research at the Arms Control Association. “I don’t think you’re going to see something that is full-bore ahead.”

At issue are a radar facility in the Czech Republic and a battery of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland that the Bush administration says are needed to guard against a developing missile threat from Iran.

Russian officials have long complained ….

Read the rest at:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0709/p02s01-usfp.html

Russia’s Ivanov: Global Missile Defense System Could be Created by 2020

July 8, 2007

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PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY (Far East), July 8 (RIA Novosti) – A global missile defense system proposed by Russia could be created by 2020, a Russian first deputy prime minister said Sunday.

“We are proposing to create a single missile defense system for all participants with equal access to the system’s control,” Sergei Ivanov said in a televised interview with the Vesti Nedeli program on Rossiya television channel.

Print version

Ivanov said the proposal applied both to the United States and European countries, including neutral states like Austria, Finland and Sweden.

According to Ivanov, the proposal involved efforts to create missile defense data exchange centers in Moscow and Brussels where the headquarters of NATO and the European Union are located.

Ivanov also mentioned the recent initiative by President Vladimir Putin that Russia and the United States could use the early warning facility in Gabala in Azerbaijan, if the U.S. gave up its plans to deploy elements of its European missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

“In addition, Russia is ready in the future to offer its new radar being built in the Krasnodar Territory [in southern Russia] for a joint data system,” Ivanov said.

U.S. plans to place elements of its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic have become one of the main issues of contention in relations between Russia and the United States, bringing them recently to their lowest point since the Cold War.

In an initial response to the U.S. move, Moscow threatened to point Russian warheads at Europe and pull out of a conventional arms reduction treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), but seemingly softened its stance when Putin proposed at a Group of Eight leading industrialized nations summit in Germany to jointly use the Gabala radar in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

The Gabala radar, located near the town of Minchegaur, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital Baku, was leased to Russia for 10 years in 2002.

The radar has been operational since early 1985. With a range of 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles), it is the most powerful in the region and can detect any missile launches in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

During his informal talks with George W. Bush Monday, the Russian president proposed that the United States jointly use a radar being built in southern Russia, in addition to the missile early warning facility in Gabala.

Provided to Peace and Freedom by RIA Novosti.