Steve Gutterman, Vladimir Isachenkov / AP & Adrian Blomfield / The Telegraph & Breitbart.com – 2008-11-06 22:12:49
Russia Will Deploy Missiles near Poland
Medvedev blames US for war in Georgia, sets combative tone in first state of nation speech.
Steve Gutterman and Vladimir Isachenkov / Associated Press
MOSCOW (November 6, 2008) — Russia will deploy short-range missiles near Poland to counter US military plans in Eastern Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday, setting a combative tone that clashed with global goodwill over Barack Obama’s election.
In his first state of the nation speech, Medvedev blamed Washington for the war in Georgia and the world financial crisis and suggested it was up to the United States to mend damaged ties.
Medvedev also proposed increasing the Russian presidential term to six years from four — a change that could deepen Western concern over democracy in Russia and play into the hands of his mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has not ruled out a return to the Kremlin.
Extending the presidential term could mean a possible 12 more years in the top office for the popular Putin.
Echoing Putin, who made criticism of Washington and the West a hallmark of his two-term, eight-year presidency, Medvedev used the speech in an ornate Kremlin reception hall to cast Russia as a nation threatened by encroaching American military might.
“From what we have seen in recent years — the creation of a missile defense system, the encirclement of Russia with military bases, the relentless expansion of NATO — we have gotten the clear impression that they are testing our strength,” Medvedev said.
He signaled Moscow would not give in to Western calls to pull troops from Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or rescind its recognition of their independence following the August war.
“We will not retreat in the Caucasus,” he said, winning one of many rounds of applause during the televised 85-minute address.
Talking tough, he fleshed out long-promised military measures in response to US plans for missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Soviet satellites now in NATO. The Kremlin claims the system is meant to weaken Russia, not defend against Iran, as Washington insists.
Medvedev said Iskander missiles would be deployed to Russia’s western enclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, “to neutralize, if necessary, a missile defense system.”
The Iskander has a range of about 175 miles, which would allow it to reach targets in Poland but not in the Czech Republic — but officials have said its range could be increased. Medvedev did not say whether the missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.
© Copyright 2008 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.
Russian Challenge Awaits Barack Obama
Adrian Blomfield / The Telegraph
LONDON (November 5, 2008) — It was May 2001, and Vladimir Putin was worried. George W Bush had been in the White House for nearly five months and the Russian president had still not been able to persuade the new American leader to meet him.
Relations between Moscow and Washington were fraught. Egged on by Condoleezza Rice, who built her career as a Sovietologist, George Bush had attacked Russia on the campaign trail, accusing it of brutality in Chechnya, then expelled 50 Russian diplomats after an investigation exposed a Moscow mole, Robert Hanssen, at the heart of the FBI.
Even so, Putin was desperate to be friends with both the United States and its new president, even though Mr Bush showed far less interest in Russia than his predecessor, Bill Clinton.
The White House finally succumbed to Kremlin badgering and the two men met for the first time in a castle outside the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. Putin was at his most charming and at his best prepared.
The Russian president showed his counterpart a cross, the only thing that had been recovered from the ashes of his dacha after it burned down in a fire. He wore it, the Russian said, as a sign of his faith.
President Bush seemed bowled over. “I looked into his eyes,” he told reporters after the summit. “I was able to get a handle on his soul.” Things have changed in the past eight years. It is unlikely that Putin, now Russia’s prime minister but still the country’s most powerful man, will be kept waiting when his aides call America to arrange a meeting with the new president.
Nor will Putin be as ingratiating and eager to please. Then he was the president of a broken, penurious country trying to find its place in a world utterly dominated by the United States. Today he steers a country eager to reassert itself and ready to challenge America at a time when US influence seems to many in Moscow to be on the wane.
No longer the supplicant, Russia is likely to try to test the new administration, probing its weaknesses in an attempt to humiliate its old Cold War foe.
Indeed, the White House’s chief cause for concern in the next few years could well be Moscow rather than Tehran or Pyongyang. There are many pitfalls ahead, but perhaps the most worrying will concern Washington’s plans to build a missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.
The Kremlin has already said that it will point Russia’s nuclear weapons — and maybe even fire them — at the two sites if the project goes ahead. While navigating these treacherous waters, the US will have to seek Russian co-operation to deal with other pressing international issues – from nuclear non-proliferation to Iran’s nuclear programme – on which the two countries are deeply divided.
Brimming with energy-fuelled confidence and sitting on fat financial reserves, Russia will keep up the belligerent rhetoric. Pessimists wonder if it will go further, by presenting Washington with a challenge it cannot duck in an attempt to test the new administration’s mettle. The Kremlin has already shown its disdain for world disapprobation following its invasion of Georgia in August.
With Europe swiftly plumping for reconciliation in the aftermath of the war, Moscow could be tempted to resume hostilities or turn its attention elsewhere. With Britain now also seeking rapprochement with Moscow post-Georgia, the new administration in Washington could be isolated if Russia were to want to launch a fresh bout of adventurism.
Ironically, some commentators say the Kremlin is secretly hoping that the new American president will be hawkish on Russia and will maintain Mr Bush’s projection of hard rather than soft power.
Mr Putin has been able to justify his authoritarian bent by convincing his people, often in an exaggerated way, that the United States is once again a threat to Russia. His speeches are peppered with references to unnamed powers that want to weaken or even break up Russia as part of a plot to seize its energy resources.
Such claims are readily believed. So it would suit the Kremlin if relations with the United States were to retain their hard edge, as it is convinced they will.
For the optimists, there is hope that the Russia problem could resolve itself. Oil prices are already half what they were in May and a long global recession could see them fall still further. Without the security of its energy windfall, the teeth of the Russian bear on the world stage may be pulled.
If they aren’t, America may have to temper the Russian threat by removing any pretext for Kremlin bellicosity. Both candidates were tough on Russia during the campaign. But, as is usually the case, caution may prevail now it is over. If Russia does decide to launch a relentless campaign of provocation, however, the world will once again be asking itself nervously how long Washington will able to remain patient?
Russia To Base Missiles on EU Border: Medvedev
MOSCOW (November 5, 2009) — Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
“Iskander missile systems will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region to neutralise the missile defence system,” Medvedev said. “There will also be radio-electronic neutralisation of the new US missile defence installations from the Kaliningrad region,” he added.
Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave with a large military base that is wedged between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea coastline.
The Iskander are short-range missiles that use conventional warheads with a range of up to 400 kilometres (248 miles). Medvedev did not give any details on the type of scrambling devices that Russia would deploy in Kaliningrad.
The United States is pursuing plans to build a radar base in the Czec Republic and install interceptor missiles in Poland to counter what it describes as a missile threat from “rogue states” such as Iran.
Russia has said there is no such threat and that the installations are in fact a direct threat to its security. High-level negotiations between the US and Russia on the installations have ended with no compromise.
Copyright AFP 2008.
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