Archive for the ‘europe’ Category

Russia Wants NATO, Europe To Ease Moscow’s Suspicions

November 30, 2008

Russia has reason to feel betrayed by the process of NATO expansion, begun in 1997. Seven years earlier, the Russians believe, American and German officials working on German reunification pledged not to take advantage of Moscow‘s weakness by extending NATO into Russia’s traditional backyard. By reneging on that promise, Western leaders have made Russians doubt their trustworthiness.

By Michael Mandelbaum | NEWSWEEK

To the Kremlin, the expansion process has also seemed to be based on dishonest premises. U.S. officials advertised it as a way of promoting democracy, of forcing ex-Soviet states to reform. But the democratic commitment of NATO’s first ex-communist entrants—Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic—was never in doubt. And if the Americans truly believed that NATO membership was the best way to guarantee free elections and constitutional rights, why didn’t they immediately offer it to the largest ex-communist country of them all, Russia itself? Instead, Moscow was told it would never be able to join.

NATO expansion taught Russia another lesson. The process went ahead because Moscow was too weak to stop it. This told the Russians that to have a say in European affairs, they needed to be able to assert themselves militarily. Last summer’s war in Georgia was one result.

Given this history, what should the West do now about Russia? We have no good options. In the wake of the war, some in the United States renewed the call to welcome Georgia into NATO. But NATO is a mutual-defense pact. Making Georgia a member would mean that we’d have to come to the country’s aid should fighting with Russia break out once more. This would require putting Western troops, tanks, aircraft and perhaps even nuclear weapons on Russia’s border—to which the Russians would respond with comparable forces. The U.S. military is already seriously overstretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet doing nothing would look like a retreat in the face of Russian aggression.

In the short term, the incoming U.S. president needs to think like a doctor: “First, do no harm.” This means deferring any offer of NATO membership to Georgia (and Ukraine, for that matter). Some may object that this will reward Russia for its belligerence. Perhaps, but the consequences of deferral are preferable to the costs of expansion—including a serious deterioration in relations with Moscow.

At the same time, the West should renew its security cooperation with Russia. NATO must eventually either include Russia or give….

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Russia Says It Needs New Missiles Due To U.S. Missile Shield Plan

November 28, 2008

Russia’s military said on Friday it had intensified efforts to develop new ballistic missiles in response to U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile system in Europe and Russia’s navy test fired a new generation rocket.

Soldiers in historical uniforms take part in a military parade ... 
Soldiers in historical uniforms take part in a military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, November 7, 2008.(Denis Sinyakov/Reuters)

The decision by the United States to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic has angered Moscow, which says Russia’s national security will be compromised by the U.S. anti-missile system.

By Conor Sweeney, Reuters

Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, Commander of Russia‘s Strategic Missile Forces, was quoted by Interfax as saying that Russia had bolstered its efforts to develop new missiles.

“At the present time, work has been intensified to create the research and technical foundation for new missile systems, which will be needed after 2020,” Solovtsov said.

A few hours later, the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile from the White Sea, a navy spokesman said. The missile hit the Kura testing site on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Pacific.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev visits cosmodrome Plesetsk, ... 
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev visits cosmodrome Plesetsk, which is nestled among the taiga forests of Russia’s north, October 12, 2008.REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov

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Poland Won’t Lobby Obama on Missile Defense

November 20, 2008

Poland’s foreign minister said yesterday that his country will wait for the Obama administration to make up its mind on basing missile defense interceptors in his country and will not lobby to have the project proceed.

Saying that the Warsaw government had agreed “out of friendship” to the Bush administration proposal to establish a U.S. base for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski added: “We will tread carefully and wait until the new administration makes its decision.”

By Walter Pincus
The Washington Post
The controversial European basing plan, which also involves placing a U.S. radar unit in the Czech Republic, is to be part of a broader missile defense system that the Bush administration has said is designed to intercept Iranian missiles aimed either at U.S. or European targets. Russia has voiced strong objections to the plan.

Sikorski’s remarks, made during an appearance at the Atlantic Council of the United States, a bipartisan foreign policy organization, reflect the modification of a statement posted Nov. 8 on the Web site of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. The statement said that during Kaczynski’s conversation congratulating Barack Obama, the president-elect said that “the missile defense project would continue.”
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The Testing of Obama Rolls On

November 20, 2008

The ink had barely dried on the final vote count when the testing of President-elect Barack Obama began.

One of the first was by Vladimir Putin’s puppet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declaring that if the United States continued with its plan to deploy 10 ABM interceptor missiles into Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, then Russia would move short range missiles into Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic, targeting Europe. Russia’s excuse for this threat is that they were forced into it because the U.S. defensive system could be converted to an offensive system, targeting Russia. This is a contrived argument and Mr. Putin knows it is groundless.

By James Lyons
The Washington Times

What’s more disturbing is that Mr. Putin’s European proxies like the former German defense minister, Peter Struck, currently the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, called Mr. Medvedev’s threat understandable and blamed President Bush for provoking Russia. This is incredible since he knows Russia was invited to participate in this very limited defensive shield whose fundamental purpose is to destroy any ballistic missile fired at Europe or the United States from a “rogue state” such as Iran.

During Mr. Medvedev’s recent visit to Washington, he appeared to soften his opening salvo by saying he hoped a compromise on the planned defensive shield deployment could be worked out with the new administration. He suggested a potential global system of protection against rogue states or perhaps use of existing systems to defeat such an attack. Existing systems clearly will be inadequate for this task. Mr. Medvedev concluded his comments by saying Russia will not make the first move.

With NATO’s weak response to Russia’s blatant invasion of Georgia, plus Russia’s increasing control of energy resources provided Europe, Mr. Putin sees the defensive shield issue as another opportunity to embarrass and further weaken U.S. influence while furthering his own agenda. If Mr. Putin can cause President-elect Obama to eventually back down on the deployment of the defensive shield, then Mr. Putin’s influence in dealing with the Eastern European border states, as well as the rest of Europe, will be significantly strengthened. Mr. Putin and his KGB cronies can be expected to further expand their control over the energy systems fueling Europe, as well as promoting the gas cartel.

Just last week, we saw the European Union reverse its position on withdrawing from negotiating with Russia on a “strategic Partnership” – the negotiations now will proceed even though Russia has not lived up to its obligations in the EU-brokered agreement with Georgia. Led by France and Germany, the EU has essentially caved and will resume business as usual. After all, since they have mortgaged their energy requirements, they cannot afford to have Mr. Putin turn off the energy valves as he did to the Ukraine in the winter of 2006.

I believe Mr. Obama will come under intense pressure from our European “partners” to cancel the deployment of defensive missiles to Poland. With no change in Iran’s drive to achieve a nuclear weapon capability, we would be sending all the wrong signals by canceling the deployment.

 Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

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Russia and The West: How To Reverse Escalation of Tension and Confrontation?

November 18, 2008

Barely one hour after Barack Obama’s victory speech, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy missiles in Russia’s westernmost region of Kaliningrad that could attack U.S. military targets in Poland. The targets are limited, small in number and do not yet really exist: They will exist if and when the United States completes the ballistic missile defense system it plans to place in Poland, along with a sophisticated radar component in the Czech Republic.

The reaction in Europe and the United States ranged from outrage in Poland to serious concern at NATO headquarters and disappointment in the White House. Russia claims it has been backed into a corner by U.S. erosion of key cornerstones of European and global security and by aggressive moves to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into areas that affect Russia’s vital security interests.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Chinese President ... 
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Chinese President Hu Jintao shake hands during a bilateral meeting after the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington November 15, 2008.REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Vladimir Rodionov

How did we arrive at this point? Russia sees new threats from NATO and the United States, and they see new threats from Russia. And even where they see common dangers — as in the case of potential and actual missile threats from Asia and the Middle East — they cannot find common ground on how to deal with them. How do we reverse this steady escalation of tension and confrontation?

By Greg Austin

Russia’s Medvedev Learned PR Skills from Hitler, Chavez, Khrushchev and Putin?

Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

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Medvedev backpedals on missile threats

November 16, 2008
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Saturday that Russia will not carry out its threats to deploy new missiles facing Europe and that the advent of a new U.S. administration provides “great opportunities” to overcome other differences between the United States and his country.

By Barbara Slavin
The Washington Times

In Washington to attend a meeting of the world’s 20 largest economies, Mr. Medvedev suggested that the global financial crisis had a potential silver lining.

“I believe we have great opportunities to restore relations to the fullest extent, and we can build them on a new foundation,” the Russian leader told the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Medvedev stunned President-elect Barack Obama by delivering a harsh speech in Moscow the day after the U.S. elections. The Russian threatened to put missiles in the enclave of Kaliningrad if the United States carries out plans to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

On Saturday, he said he meant “nothing personal” by the timing of the speech. “I absolutely forgot about the important political event taking place that day,” he said.

 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations at the Washington Club Saturday in Washington. (Associated Press)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations at the Washington Club Saturday in Washington. (Associated Press)

The Bush administration has said that the missile defenses are intended for Iran, but Russia objects to their deployment so close to its borders and says they are aimed at Russian targets.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday also seemed to back down from comments critical of the planned missile-defense system.

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Medvedev: Russia, U.S. have opportunities to ease confrontation over missile defense

November 16, 2008

The incoming administration led by Barack Obama could bring opportunities to ease up the U.S.-Russian confrontation over the controversial missile defense plan in Europe, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said here on Saturday.

By: The People’s Daily, China

“We will not do anything until America does the first step”, said Medvdev, hinting a plan to deploy missiles in Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland, in a tough response to the planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe’s Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Russian president, in Washington for the summit of the Group of 20on the financial markets and world economy, made the remarks Saturday evening at a forum hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent nonpartisan organization and think tank.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, before the Europe-Russia finance reform summit in Nice southern France. Sarkozy urged Russia and the United States to stop threatening each other with missiles and missile shields Friday and called for talks on Europe’s future security.(AFP/Valery Hache)

The United States and Russia have opportunities to ease up the confrontation through talks, said Medvedev, adding that he has received signals showing U.S. President-elect Barack Obama prefers holding talks with Moscow over the plan but not to simply approve it.

The president said there is “a lack of trust” between Moscow and Washington, but he hoped that the situation could be changed when the Obama administration takes office on Jan. 20, 2009.

Medvedev voiced hope for a meeting with Obama, saying “the main thing is that the meeting takes place and that it takes place quickly.”

The Bush administration is planning to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield. The related treaty or agreement were signed separately this summer.

Washington has tried to convince Moscow that the U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe was aimed at protecting itself from so-called rogue countries, but not targeted at Russia, who strongly opposes the plan, saying it poses a threat to its security.

Russia Backs Off (Further?) on Europe Missile Threat

November 15, 2008

President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia retreated Friday from his threat to deploy missiles on Europe’s borders, but only if President-elect Barack Obama joined Russia and France in calling for a conference on European security by next summer.

By Stephen Castle
The New York Times
At a meeting in Nice hosted by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Mr. Medvedev backed away from the bellicose speech he gave last week, just hours after Mr. Obama won the United States presidential election. On Friday, the Russian leader argued instead that all countries “should refrain from unilateral steps” before discussions on European security next summer.

Mr. Sarkozy, who presided over the meeting between Russia and the 27 European Union nations in his capacity as the union’s president, helped ease the way for Mr. Medvedev’s retreat. The French leader supported the idea of talks on a new security architecture for Europe and suggested that they could be held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in June or July.

Above: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, left, greeted President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in Nice, France, on Friday, before a meeting with officials from the European Union nations. Bruno Bebert/European Pressphoto Agency

Both Russia and the United States belong to the organization.

Mr. Sarkozy made clear that he wants the United States to think again about the missile defense systems that it plans to build in Poland and the Czech Republic. Mr. Medvedev last week threatened to respond by stationing missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania, both of which are members of NATO and the European Union.

“Between now and then,” said Mr. Sarkozy, referring to the summer summit meeting, “please no more talk of antimissile protection systems.”

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Belarus Says It Will Accept Russian Missiles Targeted on Europe

November 14, 2008

The Belarusian government is in discussion with Russia on deploying missiles in Belarus that could strike targets in Europe, the country’s president said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told The Wall Street Journal he would like to see closer relationships with Western countries but he sympathizes with Russia on two points — the Georgian conflict and U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Europe.


Lukashenko said he supports Russia’s plans to place Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Lithuania and Poland, to target the U.S. missile system.

Russia opposes the U.S. plan to deploy missiles and a radar system in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the plan threatens Russia’s national security. The United States says the shield is needed to protect Europe against attacks from rouge states.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Belorussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko visit the Brest Fortress World War II memorial (225 miles) southwest of Minsk, Belarus, on June 22, 2008. This day in 1941, the garrison of the 19-century built fortress in the town of Brest was one of the first Red Army troops to confront the Nazi Germany's Army attack on the Soviet Union in World War II. It held the line for over a month. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Belorussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko visit the Brest Fortress World War II memorial (225 miles) southwest of Minsk, Belarus, on June 22, 2008. This day in 1941, the garrison of the 19-century built fortress in the town of Brest was one of the first Red Army troops to confront the Nazi Germany’s Army attack on the Soviet Union in World War II. It held the line for over a month. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)

Russia also had proposed putting Iskander missiles in Belarus, Lukashenko said. If no deal is reached, Belarus would consider deploying missiles itself, he said.

“Even if Russia does not offer these promising missiles, we will purchase them ourselves,” Lukashenko told the Journal. “Right now we do not have the funds, but it is part of our plans — I am giving away a secret here — to have such weapons.”

Russia First With A Meaningful Test for Obama

November 14, 2008

If the new administration is thinking about relations with Russia, as it should be, a rare personal story of an American scholar’s recent talk with the Russian president offers some substantive insights.

Andrew Kuchins told a small group of us at the Center for Strategic and International Studies fall meeting about how President Dmitry Medvedev described his phone conversation with President Bush last summer during the nasty little war between Georgia and its former imperial power, Moscow.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Chief of Russia's ... 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Chief of Russia’s Nanotechnology Agency Anatoly Chubais seen during the 2008 EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table Annual Conference in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

Medvedev told the small group of scholars in the Valdai Discussion Club that Bush had asked him, “You are a young government — what do you need this war for?” And Medvedev told him, “George, you would have done the same thing, only more brutally. … And, remember, if you continue your support of the Georgian regime, you do so at our own risk.”

By Georgie Anne Geyer

Kuchins, a young Eurasian specialist at CSIS, then used this unusual opportunity of hearing what Russians really think to catapult to his deep concerns about American/Russian relations and Russian intentions today. “For years since the Cold War,” he said, “I have believed that the chance of war with Russia was close to zero. Today, that probability seems, while obviously difficult to quantify, between 2 and 3 percent — and rising. I never saw (Russian and American) narratives about the world so diametrically opposed.”

Then he recalled how President Medvedev also told them at the meeting, with unmistakable meaning, “We will not tolerate any more humiliation — and we are not joking!”

Now, I have covered the Soviet Union, and later the Russian Federation, regularly since 1967, and I can say that that one word, “humiliation,” plus the fear of it, are largely behind virtually all Russian actions and statements.

Gen. Brent Scowcroft, respected Russian specialist and co-author of the new book, “America and the World, Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy,” told us at the same CSIS meeting: “The Russians are still searching for their soul. Are they really Europeans, who didn’t enjoy the Enlightenment, or are they Asians? … We’ve never had a strategy for dealing with the Russians after the Cold War … (W)e left the impression that it didn’t matter.”

So, where are we now? Well, when Vice President-elect Joe Biden warned earlier this fall that the world would test the new president, the first to step up to the plate was Moscow. Within mere days of the election, that same Russian president had thrown out the first ball: With bristling words, he warned he would co-opt the Bush administration‘s plan to put missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic by saying that Moscow would respond by placing short-range missiles on Russia’s Western border in Kaliningrad. These were all “forced measures,” he said, in place of the “positive cooperation that Russia wanted to combat common threats.”

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