Archive for the ‘Kosovo’ Category

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.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080331/ap_on_re_eu/russia_vs_nato;_
ylt=AvVvJFFHKHXCtXchiQYdX2Gs0NUE

Russia foresees new problems with the West

March 18, 2008

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The West may face new diplomatic problems with resurgent Russia because of European and U.S. efforts to stifle Moscow‘s influence, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in an annual review on Tuesday.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L), US Secretary of State ...
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L), US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (C) and Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov hold a press conference after talks in Moscow. The United States and Russia failed in talks here Tuesday to bridge gaps over US missile defence plans and the fate of the main strategic arms treaty, but vowed to make a clean break with past tensions.(AFP/Pool/Kevin Lamarque)

“The events of 2007 show that one cannot exclude problems in global politics in the period to come,” said the document posted on the ministry Web site (www.mid.ru). “This primarily refers to Europe where the inertia of bloc approaches…is most visible.”

Last year saw tough anti-Western rhetoric coming from the Kremlin as it prepared for a transfer of power from President Vladimir Putin to his handpicked successor Dmitry Medvedev, who takes office on May 7 after winning this month’s election.

Russia has clashed with the United States over Washington’s plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe, over Iran and Western recognition of independence for Serbia‘s breakaway province of Kosovo.

Echoing earlier statements by Putin, the review criticized U.S. policy as “destructive … aimed at breaking strategic stability, imposing its military superiority in the world.”

It also criticized the European Union for what is viewed in Moscow as an attempt to restrict Russia’s influence.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080318/wl_nm/russia_diplomacy_dc_1

Rice, Gates to take missile shield talks to Russia

March 12, 2008
by Olivier Knox 

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia March 17-18, with Russo-US ties sorely strained by US missile defense plans, officials said Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies during a House ... 
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia March 17-18, with Russo-US ties sorely strained by US missile defense plans, officials said Wednesday.(AFP/GETTY IMAGES/Mark Wilson) 
.
With Iran, the Middle East, and Kosovo’s declaration of independence also on the agenda, Rice and Gates will meet with their counterparts and seek talks with President Vladimir Putin and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, aides said.

Putin and US President George W. Bush agreed in a telephone call last week that the talks, a follow up to a similar round in October 2007, would be “a good idea,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“The agenda will cover a broad range of bilateral strategic issues, including missile defense, post-START arrangements, cooperation on non-proliferation as well as counterterrorism,” she said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080312/
ts_afp/usrussianatodiplomacy_080312220312

Russia Cashes in on Kosovo Fears

March 9, 2008

By YURI ZARAKHOVICH/MOSCOW
Time Magazine

By splitting the West and the wider international community, the U.S.-backed declaration of independence by Kosovo has given Russia an opening. Countries concerned with separatist problems of their own, from Spain or Cyprus to China, have been unable to follow the U.S. lead in recognizing Kosovo’s breakaway from Serbia. And Russia has sought to exploit the gaps that have emerged as a result.

Some two hundred people protest with signs reading “Kosovo is Serbia” and waving Serbian flags, during a march in the center of Bratislava on March 5, 2008. Serbia was in danger of blocking its own path to eventual European Union membership, a senior US official said here Friday amid political turmoil in Belgrade over Kosovo’s US-backed independence.
(AFP/File/Samuel Kubani)

In Serbia, itself, Russia capitalized literally, on the standoff over Kosovo. In Belgrade, just a week before he became Russia’s President-elect, Dmitri Medvedev supervised Serbia’s signing up to a prospective Russian Southern Stream natural gas pipe-line. Serbia also sold to Russia a 51% stake of Naftna Industrija Srbija (NIS), a much prized national oil company for $614 million and the promise of a further investment of $770 million. Russia plans build a major gas storage facility in Serbia, making the country a key base for Russian energy supplies to Europe. This consolidation of ties with Serbia achieves two Russian strategic goals: taking over national energy assets of European countries; and keeping erstwhile allies of the Soviet Union from being drawn into the Western fold. To emphasize warming ties, travel between Russia and Serbia will no longer require visas.

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,17
20718,00.html

Taiwan’s straits of reality

March 9, 2008

By Herbert London
The Washington Times
March 9, 2008
.
While the United States and many European nations have recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, China has indicated it will avoid any precedent that could be applied to Taiwan.
.
In fact, in 2005 China’s National People’s Congress passed an “anti-secession law” that said: “Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division.” This anti-secession law explicitly authorizes the Chinese government to “employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures” if Taiwan unilaterally declares its independence.

Supporters of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) ... 
With Kosovo’s declaration, Taiwan is again on the front burner as an international issue. The Taiwanese presidential election in March 2008 and the referendum on United Nations’ admission offer stark evidence that Taiwan’s ambiguous status will be given careful examination.
Taiwan's main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential ... 
Taiwan’s main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou greets supporters in a traditional aboriginal head dress during a night meeting with Taiwan’s aborigines at a church in Linkou in Taipei County March 9, 2008. Ma was elected as the honourary leader of Taiwan’s 13 aborigine tribes in the ceremony.
REUTERS/Nicky Loh (TAIWAN)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080309/COMMENTARY/194346540

US orders some diplomats to leave Serbia

February 22, 2008
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – The State Department on Friday ordered nonessential diplomats and the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade to leave Serbia, following an attack on the compound
The move, made at the request of U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Cameron Munter, came as U.S. diplomats across the Balkans went on alert, girding for more anti-American violence after Serb rioters stormed and torched the Belgrade embassy Thursday, causing as-yet undetermined damage and drawing fierce condemnation from Washington.

“We are not sufficiently confident that they are safe….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_
kosovo;_ylt=ArC1CknI_Tg84CF
o15IB1oes0NUE

Only in America: Boundless Technology; Brilliant Youth

February 22, 2008

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”
–Winston Churchill

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Friday, February 22, 2008

Wednesday, USS Lake Erie’s sailors launched an SM-3 Missile that streaked into space to hit an errant U.S. spy satellite exactly as planned: right amidships of the 1,000 pound toxic hydrazine fuel tank.

The satellite was at about 133 miles in altitude and traveling at 17,000 miles per hour or 24 times the speed of sound.

In the twinkling of an eye, America demonstrated new, or at least unknown and unproven, technology and capability. The United States, for the first time, exploded a satellite in shallow space or just before reentry using tactical systems: ships and missiles and men trained to fight “in the air” were reaching into space: for the first time ever.

My Vietnam-born bride said, “Only in America.” Then she said, “The sailors did it.”

As she so often does, my wife Lien was making a huge statement with the fewest of words. She, in one breath, extolled the wonders of American technology as well as the devotion, care and brilliance of our American people: especially our often maligned American youth.

The next day, Serbian youths ransacked the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and several other Embassies that violated their ideas about what was right and wrong about Kosovo.

I don’t recall America’s youth rioting to this extent for a while.

Sailors love, cherish, care for and maintain their ships and often high-tech and high-cost equipment with the greatest precision and detail. They are devoted, driven and professional.  They are both hard working and delightful.

If you have troubled kids or a dim view of American youth: visit a U.S. Navy ship.

I’ll extend this line of thinking to U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force airmen. I’m no Ollie North but I’ve been around the U.S. military and around the globe.

I have one unshakable conclusion: our young Americans are serving superbly.

We are a nation at war.

The war is a war of ideas.  We oppose no nation, no people and no religion.  Yet the people with other ideas are armed and dangerous: they use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and women and children and the mentally infirm with bombs wrapped around them. 

We are using about one percent of our population to fight, with arms, the war against terror.

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

That one percent is sacrificing life and limbs, and I mean arms and legs are lost every day, for You.

I am reminded every day of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

I am moved by the wonders of the U.S. Navy reaching into space and the dichotomies of this nation.

Some geniuses at the Pentagon, as they prepared to blast a satellite to smithereens and then watch the chucks or, as military analyst John Pikes calls them, “gravel,” of the space debris reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up; said: “We need a toxic debris clean up team!”

But of course.

America needs a “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team.”

Never mind that junk in the form of meteors have been hitting the Earth for centuries and that satellites and their parts have been crashing to Earth since the 1950s without incident.

America needs a “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team.”

Funny, I don’t recall China’s “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team” when they blew up a satellite last year.  Do you?

They have 1.3 Billion people.  We Americans have a 0.3 Billion.  That is about 300 Million.

We stand, in terms of history and population, in China’s margin.

My wife submitted this commentary. “Only in America.”

So, with haz-mat suits at the ready, a quick response team stood on alert Thursday, the day after the satellite was destroyed, to head anyplace on Earth that the pieces of a lame satellite shot down by the U.S. Navy might fall.

And for the ultimate dichotomy: inside the “Toxic Space-Only Rocket Fuel Mop Up Kit” do you know what you’ll find?

Kitty litter.

Only in America.

Next time you have a cat stuck in a tree or sewer or a hunk of burning space debris smoldering on your lawn, dial 911.

Only in America.

American has ambulances almost everywhere.  In India, they pack you into the back seat of a taxi and hope for the best.

My friends in the world community will forgive me for this.  Others will castigate me.  But I believe in the wonder and wonders of America.

I live in a land of Boundless Technology and Brilliant Youth.

It might not always be so.

But for now, as my wife says, “Only in America.”

US warns Serbia on embassy damage

February 22, 2008
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – The United States bluntly warned Serbia against inciting violence after an angry mob protesting the independence of the former Serbian province of Kosovo stormed and set fire to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade on Thursday.

Serb students protest against Kosovo's independence in the ethnically ...
Serb students protest against Kosovo’s independence in the ethnically divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. The proclamation of Kosovo’s independence by ethnic Albanians on Sunday has been followed with growing anger among Kosovo’s Serb population.(AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

The attack played out live on television screens around the world and the Bush administration reacted with unusual sharpness, denouncing Serb authorities for failing to protect the compound from rioters who torched part of its main office building, causing undetermined damage and possibly the death of one person whose charred body was later found.

“Our embassy was attacked by thugs,” White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned from a trip to Africa. “We have made known to the Serbian government our concern and displeasure that their police force did not prevent this incident.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_kosovo;_ylt=
AlJ5x_zYQE7FBhQLhFzIPI.s0NUE

Rioters break into US Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia

February 21, 2008
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer 

BELGRADE, Serbia – Serb rioters broke into the U.S. Embassy Thursday and set fire to an office after a massive protest against Kosovo’s independence that drew an estimated 150,000 people.
Protesters attend a during mass protest rally against Kosovo's ...
Protesters attend a during mass protest rally against Kosovo’s declaration of independence in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. At least 150,000 Serbs gathered in central Belgrade on Thursday in a massive protest against Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Masked attackers broke into the building, which has been closed this week, and tried to throw furniture from an office. A blaze broke out inside one of the offices. Riot police drove armored jeeps down the street and fired tear gas to clear the crowd.

The neighboring Croatian Embassy also was attacked by the same group of protesters.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack strongly urged the Serbian government to protect the U.S. Embassy. He said the U.S. ambassador was at his home and was in contact with U.S. officials.

The U.S. embassy in Belgrade burns after masked attackers broke ...
The U.S. embassy in Belgrade burns after masked attackers broke into the building and set an office on fire at the end of a massive protest against Western-backed Kosovo independence, in the Serbian capital, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. More than 150,000 Serbs gathered at the rally vowing to retake the territory which is viewed as Serbia’s religious and national heartland.
(AP Photo)

More than a dozen nations have recognized Kosovo‘s declaration of independence on Sunday, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

But the declaration has been rejected by Serbia‘s government and the ethnic Serbians who populate northern Kosovo. Russia, China and numerous other nations have also condemned the declaration, saying it sets a precedent that separatist groups around the world will seek to emulate.

Earlier, police estimated that about 150,000 people had attended a rally in the Serbian capital. The crowd waved Serbian flags and carried signs reading “Stop USA terror.” One group set fire to a red-and-black Albanian flag. Most of Kosovo’s population is ethnic Albanian.

Putin: Persistent, Popular, Pugnacious…Paranoid

February 20, 2008

By David J. Smith
Tbilisi 24 Saati
February 18, 2008

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two farewell performances—farewell as president, anyway—revealed no new substance.

Instead, his February 8 Development Strategy to 2020 speech and his February 14 mega-press conference showcased a persistent, popular and pugnacious Kremlin strongman who increasingly defines Russia in terms of foreign bogymen.

Take heed.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

Putin’s twelve-year strategy—to use his word—must have brought a smile to the face of anyone nostalgic for Soviet times. It was stuff worthy of a Communist Party Congress: denunciation of earlier times, glowing progress report, indignant criticism of unnamed officials, frank talk of what is yet to be done and a pinch of paranoia.

Putin’s Russia is looking more-and-more Soviet—or maybe some of us are only now noticing how Russian the Soviet Union was.

These days, of course, Putin mixes capitalist and socialist themes. Investment, stock market capitalization and GDP are all skyrocketing.

And Russia has made major advances in machine building, transportation, housing, education and health care. One expected happy peasant girls to dance across the stage, their baskets brimming with food for the people!

However, Putin’s February 8 speech was more notable for what it did not say. Russia’s soon-to-be prime minister failed to mention Dmitry Medvedev, the man he chose for Russians to elect as president on March 2.

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев

Medvedev, it seems, has little to do with Putin’s strategy to persist in the Kremlin.

In his 4½-hour Saint Valentine Day press conference, though, Putin managed a few words about Medvedev. Prime Minister Putin will place President Medvedev’s picture on his wall. “We will establish our personal relations,” said Putin, “I assure you there will be no problems here.”

There will be no problems because Putin reread the Russian Constitution to achieve an understanding that had eluded him during eight years as president. “The highest executive authority in the country is the government, which is led by the prime minister.”

Putin’s Duumvirate with Medvedev may change some of the Kremlin’s personal dynamics and style, but he said, “If I see that in this post I can continue realizing these goals, I will work as long as possible.”

Though Putin’s switcheroo may appear odd to some westerners, his persistence in the Kremlin is fine with most Russians.

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, Medvedev shuns campaigning and debates, counting on Putin’s popularity to elect him president. Expect him promptly to appoint Putin prime minister.

With this kind of popularity, it was appropriate for Putin to give his Castroesque press conference on February 14. An adoring Russian journalist even passed him a Valentine Day present—a wire service photo captured Putin leaving the stage clutching the pink and red heart.

In this loving environment, concern for the integrity of elections and the scrutiny of foreign observers is misplaced. Indeed, there will be no observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the foremost election observation group.Asked about the OSCE spurning the March 2 presidential election, a pugnacious Putin replied, if the election monitors want to teach something, “Let them teach their wives to make shchi.” (Shchi is a Russian cabbage soup.)

And there was plenty more in that vein.

Asked about reports of corruption, he replied that these were rumors that journalists “picked from a nose and smeared onto their papers.”

One might dismiss these remarks as crude muscle flexing for domestic consumption, but Putin’s pugnacity sparks greater concern when considered with his apparently growing paranoia in the international arena.

“I cannot but say a few words…about our foreign policy strategy,” said Putin toward the end of his strategy speech. No foreign policy strategy followed—nothing about trade, neighbors, world peace, climate change or any of the usual foreign policy topics.

Instead, Putin recapitulated his familiar grievances against the west: American missile defenses in Central Europe, “a new spiral in the arms race,” purportedly violated treaties and NATO enlargement.

Then he added, “A fierce battle for resources is unfolding, and the whiff of gas or oil is behind many conflicts.”

In his press conference, Putin connected western criticism of Russian elections with disagreement on Kosovo: “Who is going to listen to Russia’s position on Kosovo if Russia itself is supposedly an undemocratic country?”

On most of these matters the Russian position is just plain wrong.

On Kosovo, Moscow has a point, but stupid western diplomacy is just that, not an anti-Russian plot. Criticism of Russia’s democracy deficit is well founded and unconnected to Kosovo.

But cogent arguments only detract from the image Putin is creating. “We are effectively being forced into a situation where we have to take measures in response, where we have no choice but to make the necessary decisions.”

One cannot escape the fear that Putin is not cataloging Russian foreign policy challenges—or even grievances—but defining Russia by his paranoia.

****************
David J. Smith is Director, Georgian Security Analysis Center, Tbilisi, and Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Washington.

Peace and Freedom wishes to thank Ambassador Smith andMr. James T. Hackett who made use of this article on the internet possible.