Russian Bear Growls

at US Hypocrisy and Hegemony

"The war in Iraq is a historic strategic and moral calamity undertaken under false assumptions - undermining America's global legitimacy - collateral civilian casualties, abuses, - tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability." Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to US President Jimmy Carter. 

At the 43rd annual International Security Conference held in Munich on 10 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the importance of the role of United Nations, U.S. missile defense, NATO expansion, Iran's nuclear program and the Energy Charter. He accused Washington of provoking a new nuclear arms race by developing ballistic missile defenses, undermining international institutions, trying to divide modern Europe and making the Middle East more unstable through its clumsy handling of the Iraq war. 

Ever since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ended the cold war in 1989, more out of naivet' than misplaced goodwill which after USSR's collapse the US ruling elite claimed as the victory of the capitalist West over Socialist Russia, this is the first blunt criticism of US unleashed rampant forces trying to coerce the whole world to its will for total domination while using brazen lies and illegal, brutal and inhuman means.

While calling a spade a spade Russian leader Putin was only articulating what a majority of peoples in the world think of US policies. A BBC poll covering more than 26,000 people in 25 countries, including the U.S., held in November - January, found that 49 % believe U.S. playing "mainly negative" role in the world, compared to 32% who said it was "mainly positive." In 18 countries asked the same question earlier, which had called U.S. influence positive, it fell from 40 % in 2005, to 36 % last year, to 29 % in 2007. In Germany and Indonesia, nearly 3 out of 4 respondents had a mainly negative opinion of U.S. influence while it was 69 % in France and Turkey. 

Nearly 73 % disapproved of Washington's role in the Iraq war. In Egypt, France, and Lebanon where more than 3 out of 4 respondents "strongly disapproved" , while more than 68 % said the U.S. military presence in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents." 

Even in US, 57 % disapprove of their government's handling of the Iraq war and of the Israeli-Hezbollah war; while 60 % disapproved of its handling of Guantanamo detainees; and 53 % believed the U.S. military presence provokes more conflict than it prevents. A plurality of 50 % in U.S. disapprove of the government's handling of Iran's nuclear program.

"These days the U.S. government hardly seems to be able to do anything right," said Steven Kull, director of the University of Maryland who coordinated the poll. 

In last November elections US electorate trashed Bush's policies by trouncing his Republican party in the Senate and the House and disapprove of Bush's policies by 2 to one .But instead of course correction , also recommended by Baker 'Hamilton Iraqi Study Group, there is now the so called policy of "surge" in Iraq , with only a massive surge in deaths and destruction in Iraq , specially Baghdad , where the new policy would be implemented. 

Then there are multifarious accusations against Tehran without proof and threats to use force , even nuclear weapons .Such an irrational and immoral attack if carried out, most experts and people believe would plunge the world into hell like turmoil for decades. You just have to look at the quagmire in Iraq with daily massacres and almost total destruction of the Iraqi state with a burgeoning civil war triggered by Washington. 

Putin's speech marks a new era in Russia's new found confidence after 7 years of his rule which has brought stability and economic strength. He is now visiting Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, first ever visits by a Russian head of state. With Middle East in a state of flux and USA bogged down in Iraq with no clear cut exit policy, Saudi Arabia and others in the region are looking elsewhere to counter irrational US policies.

"I see in ... Putin a statesman and a man of peace and fairness," Saudi King Abdullah.

Unlike 1991, when Gorbachev's peace initiative to help resolve the problem of Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, was brushed aside by Washington, Moscow is now better positioned to play a vital and constructive role in the region. Exchange of Presidential visits with Syria two years ago, writing off of old Syrian debts of almost $10 billion and supply of missiles to deter arrogant Israeli jets buzzing the Presidential Palace in Damascus have almost restored the old relationship. Historical enemies Russia and Turkey have made up and have booming economic exchanges. 

Moscow is now ready to play a role of reliable and honest broker in Arab Israeli dispute with its excellent relations with Tel Aviv and PLO and even Hamas which was received in Moscow,  soon after it was elected to power. Moscow's strengthened relations with Tehran with its support at the UN, supply of missiles and arms and building of nuclear power plants and possibly create an informal gas OPEC give Russia an important role. And Putin has worked towards it assiduously.

"I see in ... Putin a statesman and a man of peace and fairness," said Saudi King Abdullah according to official Saudi Press Agency. "That's why the kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends a hand of friendship to Russia." Qatar has the world's third-largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran while Russia is second largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia. They could consult each other on oil and gas prices.

Putin's warm reception in Riyadh, Qatar and Amman is harbinger of Russia's growing influence in the region and desire of the unnerved states in the region for a bulwark against USA's destructive policies, which could unleash a terrible Shia-Sunni conflagration in the region and beyond.The Arabs and Muslims have seen through US policies! 

Middle East and the Muslim world is learning to trust Putin's Russia It was granted observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 2005, and in 2006 the Russia-Muslim World Strategic Vision Group was established. 

Before embarking on his tour of the Middle East, in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV, extremely popular in Arab and Islamic world, Putin said that the new U.S. strategy in Iraq will work only if a date for withdrawal of foreign military forces was agreed upon. The U.S. has officially declared that it plans to hand over full authority, primarily in the law enforcement and security areas, to Iraqi agencies. 

Putin said, "But I think this won't work if we don't decide beforehand when the foreign contingent should be withdrawn. Because, as it happens in any conflict and in any country, people should know that they have to be prepared to take on full responsibility inside the country by a certain date. When they do not have a definite date and when it is unclear when the maturity of relevant organizations in this country should reach a certain appropriate level, then everything is shifted off to the foreign contingent." 

Putin's Munich Discourse

Putin's audience in Munich comprised of dozens of Western ministers and policy makers ,including the new US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, and the hawkish Republican Presidential contender, Senator John McCain. 

Putin stated; "Today we are observing unrestrained, hypertrophied use of force in international affairs, a force that plunges the world into an abyss of recurring conflicts." "I am convinced that the UN Charter is the only legitimate decision-making mechanism for the use of military force as a last resort," he said. 

"The UN must not be replaced either by NATO or the European Union," declared Putin. 

On NATO's eastward expansion, Putin said that it has nothing to do with its modernization and would affect Moscow's relations with the Alliance. 

{Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - joined NATO in 2004. Georgia and Ukraine, which saw US franchised street gangs, financed, trained and supported by Washington and its so called democracy promoting institutions and NGOs, install US puppets in power (both are in trouble now) are being encouraged to join NATO. Russia strongly objects to the deployment of NATO bases on the territory of newly admitted member nations. Reports suggest that Romanian and Bulgarian bases could be used if Iran was attacked.} 

"It is evident that the process of NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernizing the alliance or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it is seriously eroding mutual trust," the Russian leader said. "Why do they have to move their military infrastructure closer to our borders?" Putin wondered, "Is this connected with overcoming global threats today?" 

Putin added that the main threat facing Russia, the U.S. and Europe derives from international terrorism, which can only be fought jointly. 

"What is a uni-polar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master," clarified Putin.

He stated that deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe could trigger a new spiral of the arms race. US reasons for deploying a missile defense system in Europe are not convincing enough, since launching of North Korean ballistic missiles against the U.S. across western Europe would be in conflict with the laws of ballistics. " Or, as we say in Russia, it's the like trying to reach your left ear with your right hand," he clarified. 

Putin pledged to amend Russia's military strategy. "All our responses will be asymmetric, but highly effective," he said. 

This riposte was in response to US plans to install a radar system in the Czech Republic and a missile interception system in Poland,' to protect itself against a potential threat from Iran.' Recently Washington has also shifted its largest sea-based missile defense radar in the Pacific from Hawaii to the Aleutian Islands, not far from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. 

Putin affirmed that Moscow is committed to its obligations on the reduction of nuclear warheads by 2012. The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, signed on May 24, 2002 by Putin and Bush in Moscow, and expiring December 31, 2012, limited both countries' nuclear arsenals to 1,700-2,200 warheads each. The treaty has been criticized for a lack of verification provisions and the possibility of re-deploying stored warheads. 

Putin hoped that "our partners will also act in a transparent manner and will not try to stash away an extra couple hundred nuclear warheads against a rainy day." 

Moscow has prepared a draft treaty on preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space. Putin said, "It will be submitted to our partners as an official proposal in the very near future." 

He also called on the international community to resume dialogue on nuclear non-proliferation. "Russia speaks for the resumption of dialogue on this most important issue. It's necessary to preserve stability of the international legal disarmament base, and ensure the continuity of the nuclear arms reduction process," he said. 

"We are seeing increasing disregard for the fundamental principles of international law," said Putin. The United States had repeatedly overstepped its national borders on questions of international security, a policy he said had made the world less, not more, safe. 

"Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not solved a single problem; they have become a hotbed of further conflicts," 

"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way," asserted Putin.

Putin added that force should only be used when the option is backed by the United Nations Security Council. "This is very dangerous. Nobody feels secure any more because nobody can hide behind international law," he said. 

Putin also said the increased use of force was "causing an arms race with the desire of countries to get nuclear weapons." He did not name the countries but quite obviously these are north Korea, even Iran and many Arab states to counter Israel's arsenal of hundreds of nuclear bombs and means to deliver them . 

[While sanctions were passed against India and Pakistan in May, 1998, after they went nuclear, any enquiry forget any action against Israel is regularly vetoed by USA in New York and Vienna.] 

Energy Charter 

Russia is already cooperating with European countries on the basis of principles agreed in the Energy Charter, a mechanism for cooperation between Western and Eastern Europe on energy issues and signed at The Hague in 1991. [West now wants its investors free access to Russia's vast oil and gas deposits and export pipelines, but is unwilling to grant similar facilities to now petro dollar rich Russia to invest in European downstream business .Remember how US refused China, which has saved one trillion dollars by over exporting to US, investment in UNOCAL or a Dubai company a contract for handling of US ports. US led West wants only one way freedom in investment. ]

On Energy Charter Putin declared, "We have stated on numerous occasions that we are not against coordinating the principles of our relations with the European Union in the energy sphere. But we find the [Energy] Charter itself hard to accept." He said Russia's EU partners themselves are not observing the Charter, citing the nuclear materials market, which is still off limits to Russia. "No one has opened it up for us. There are also other issues that I would not like to bring up just now," he said.

Putin stated that Russia-EU energy relations should not be included in a new basic agreement replacing the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. "I do not think we should [include these relations in the basic agreement], as there are other [important] spheres in our interaction with the European Union, besides energy," he said. 

Russia and the EU were to begin talks on a new framework at the Russia-EU summit in Helsinki in November 24 last year, but Poland vetoed the negotiations over Russia's ban on its meat exports and Moscow's refusal to sign the Energy Charter. [Vice President Dick Cheney accused Moscow of using its energy resources as "tools of intimidation or blackmail." Many members in the Bush Administration belong to the energy interests to which they will revert back and are cheesed off that Russia does not allow freedom to exploit they have in Saudi Arabia, Gulf kingdoms and elsewhere.] 

Putin recalled that Germany shortly after the end of the Cold War had sought to reassure Moscow (its historic enemy) that it would never send its military forces outside its borders. Berlin now has troops in the Balkans and Afghanistan. "Where are those guarantees now?" Putin demanded , arguing that Europe was attempting to set up new "virtual" barriers to replace the Berlin Wall. 

Rubble from the Berlin Wall was "hauled away as souvenirs" to countries that praise openness and personal freedom, he said, but "now there are attempts to impose new dividing lines and rules, maybe virtual, but still dividing our mutual continent."

Putin rightly dismissed European complaints about Russian threats last year to cut off energy supplies to its neighbors, saying Moscow was only seeking market prices and stable, long-term contracts with countries including Ukraine and Georgia, which in the past had received subsidized supplies. Even friendly Belarus had to agree to market related prices. [US does it every day .It wants India to vote against Iran on the nuclear question and not have an energy security agreement either .Why ! because it is signing an agreement on nuclear power cooperation .India had its first nuclear explosion way back in 1974 and needs nuclear deterrent to protect its 1.1 billion citizens against nuclear blackmail. So does north Korea .And so think many others now that the biggest proliferators and violators of NPT are the 5 nuclear armed NPT members, also wielding veto power in UNSC].

Human Rights

Putin rebuffed criticism of his country's human rights record by the head of the New York-based Human Rights Watch , who said the world was seeing an "increasingly uni-polar government in Russia, where competing centres of influence are being forced to toe the party line." [US leaders routinely denounce HRW's critique of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other violations.] 

Putin responded that Russia was taking steps to stop foreign governments clandestinely using Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to influence Russian policy. 

On the killings of a few Russian journalists during his Presidency, Putin retorted that it was in Iraq that most journalists were killed doing their job. 

Kosovo and Serbia

Putin declared "Only the Kosovars and Serbs can resolve this." "Let's not play God and try to resolve their problems."

Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership have failed to reach agreement on the province's future. Serbia demands that the province remain its part, while Kosovo's ethnic Albanians want independence. U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari last week unveiled a proposal, backed by the U.S. and European Union, for an internationally supervised statehood for Kososvo. The plan ' which needs U.N. Security Council approval to take effect ' does not explicitly mention independence, but spells out conditions for self-rule, including a flag, anthem, army and constitution, and the right to apply for membership in international organizations. Kosovo's Serb minority would have a high degree of control over their own affairs.

Serbia has rejected the plan, while Kosovo's leaders welcomed it.

Moscow has said a solution imposed against Serbia's consent could serve as a model for other separatist provinces elsewhere in the world. Washington maintains that the Kosovo situation is a "one-off" because the province has been under U.N. rule since 1999, when Serbian forces were ejected after a two month NATO 's illegal war on Yugoslavia, which destroyed its industry and infrastructure. Yugoslavia, a nation of southern Slavs and closer to Russia was broken up by USA and West Europe. Orthodox Serbia has close ethnic and religious affinities with Russia. But West opposes independence for South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the Transdneister.


On Iran, Putin stated that unlike many countries including in Europe,Russia did not pass missile technology to Iran. "I have no evidence to show that Russia, in the 1990s, helped Iran create its own missile technology. Other countries acted there. Technology was transferred through different channels. We have proof, and earlier I passed it directly to the U.S. president," Putin said. 

"Technology is coming from Europe, from Asian countries. Russia has nothing to do with this," he said. "Russia supplied much less weaponry there than the U.S. or other countries did," he said, Russia has provided Iran with air defense systems with an effective range of 30 to 50 kilometers. "We did that so that Iran would not feel driven into a corner," he explained. 

But Putin clarified that Iran has no missiles that could threaten Europe. "As regards [fears that] Iran has missiles that could threaten Europe, you are wrong. Iran has missiles with a range of 1,600-1,700 km. Calculate how many kilometers it is from the Iranian border to Munich," he asked. 

Iran has been under US led campaign after it resumed uranium fuel enrichment in January 2006, which some Western countries claim is part of a covert nuclear weapons program. Moscow shares the concerns of the Vienna based International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, but the agency has not found a nuclear weapons program. Although Tehran has repeatedly affirmed its program is peaceful, the UN Security Council under US pressure did adopt a resolution in December imposing sanctions on Tehran ,but much diluted under insistence from Russia and China. 

Russia, Iran's neighbor and a key economic partner has consistently supported Tehran's right to nuclear power under NPT. On February 23, the IAEA would report on the UN resolution on Iran's nuclear program. IAEA's chief El Bardai has asked all sides 'to take time out' and cool down and revert to negotiations. Bush Administrations accusations have not been taken seriously by newly empowered Democrats and many others , who accuse Bush administration of having used similar ratcheting tactics before invading Iraq , when all its accusations on WMDs, Iraq's connection with Al Qaeda and efforts to obtain Uranium ore were proved to be lies. 

During the question period after the address, Putin made some soothing gestures and remarks.

Putin said President Bush had told him that the U.S. assumed the two countries would "never be enemies again, and I agree with him." "I really consider the president of the United States my friend." "He's a decent man, and one can do business with him," Putin said.

Inter-fax quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov telling state Russian TV Channel that the building of a good relations between Moscow and Washington was "not easy-- probably the most difficult partner." 

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the President's speech in Munich was not "confrontational" and attributed his blunt words to the sense that the number of conflicts fomented by Washington "was constantly growing" and that international law was being undermined by such actions. 

"It is in the interest of the United States, the European Union and other countries that international law is upheld, not further destroyed," Peskov stated. 

Before Putin's sermon, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency had praised Russia, saying it would be a reliable energy supplier to Europe. She called for closer relations between the EU and Moscow to enhance stability on the continent. 

"How relations between the EU and Russia evolve will have a crucial impact on how security in the region will develop," said Merkel She also said that the international community is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Tehran needed to accept demands made by the U.N. and the IAEA , she added. 

On the sidelines of the conference, Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani defended his country's nuclear program as peaceful, saying: "We are no threat to our region or other countries," while indicating a willingness to return to negotiations. 

Western Reaction

Having seen Putin being lectured to even by leaders of pidddling Baltic states, now part of EU; US and European leaders were stunned at the candour of his speech .While US officials mostly played it down as empty rhetoric divorced from the real world, (Did not US Sen Barbara say recently, "The president [Bush] is living in a dream world.') but European leaders are worried and felt that West must square up to a brash and combative new Russia.

"We should take him at his word. This was the real Russia of now, and possibly in four or five years time it could go further in this direction," declared Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in Munich." We have to have a dialogue with Russia but we must be hard-nosed and realistic. We must stand up for our values." 

Karl Schwarzenberg, the new Czech Foreign Minister, said it was none of Moscow's business whether Prague hosted the radar facilities for the US missile shield. "We have to thank President Putin [who] clearly and convincingly argued why Nato should be enlarged," he quipped to applause. "Some people have not noticed that the Soviet Union no longer exists." 

"I do not see how we can negotiate a new partnership pact on this basis," said German Green Angelika Beer, a member of the European Parliament. "We need Russia for energy and Kosovo. He knows that - but perhaps he is going over the top," she said. 

The European Union wants to negotiate a new partnership agreement with Russia but its hand is weakened by its dependence on Russian energy supplies. The other alternative is Iran. Any takers! 

"This Munich conference is normally about the Americans and Europeans bitching at each other," said Ron Asmus, executive director of the Transatlantic Centre think tank in Brussels. "It will be interesting to see whether Putin actually managed to bring us together." 

US & Europe need Moscow's support in UN to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear question and in securing independence for the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo. 

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he was disappointed by Putin's statement that alliance enlargement was "a serious factor provoking reduced mutual trust." "I see a disconnection between NATO's partnership with Russia as it has developed and Putin's speech," he said. 

"Who can be worried that democracy and the rule of law are coming closer to somebody's border?" Scheffer asked. [ Yes, de Hoop Scheffer. USA and NATO are spreading democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and international law by illegal invasion of Iraq.] 

Putin's Munich growl came a day after a similar speech by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov - a possible successor to Putin ,to his NATO counterparts meeting in Seville, Spain. 

"One Cold War was quite enough," US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

Robert Gates sat through Putin's speech stone faced. A former CIA chief , as is the usual US trait when demonizing Putin they refer to his KGB background ( rarely mentioned when George WH Bush , a former CIA chief ,was Vice President or President ) Gates replied next day, "As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time," He paused for effect before adding, "Almost." 

"And, I guess, old spies have a habit of blunt speaking," Gates said. "However, I have been to re-education camp ' spending four and half years as a university president and dealing with faculty." His remark drew laughs and applause. 

"Russia is a partner in endeavors," Gates added. "But we wonder, too, about some Russian policies that seem to work against international stability, such as its arms transfers and its temptation to use energy resources for political coercion." [ Really, What about invading Iraq to grab energy ?] 

"All of these characterizations belong in the past," Gates said, and he listed some of them: "The free world versus those behind the Iron Curtain. North versus South. East versus West, and I am told that some have even spoken in terms of 'Old Europe' versus 'New.'" (It referred to remarks by his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld on Europe).

"The distinction I would draw is a very practical one ' a realist's view perhaps," Gates said. "It is between alliance members who do all they can to fulfill collective commitments, and those who do not." He urged NATO allies to increase their military spending to meet the benchmark of two percent of gross domestic product set by the alliance; only six of NATO's 26 members fulfill that standard.

Digging old ghosts i.e. NATO's success in facing the Soviet threat, Gates stated that "it seems clear that totalitarianism was defeated as much by ideas the West championed then and now as by ICBMs, tanks and warships that the West deployed," Gates said. The alliance's most effective weapon, he said, was a "shared belief in political and economic freedom, religious toleration, human rights, representative government and the rule of law. These values kept our side united, and inspired those on the other side." 

Gates added that the interceptor missiles and radar installations planned for Poland and the Czech Republic were not directed against Russia - it offered no protection against the Kremlin's arsenal of nuclear-tipped intercontinental rockets.

"This umbrella of protection unifies the alliance rather than divides it," he said.

Throughout his reply to Putin's commanding performance , Gates asked how America's European allies must help rebuild Afghanistan ( There are few takers for South Afghanistan.) and remain vigilant in the fight against global terrorism. He mentioned Putin only once by name ,to say he had accepted his invitation to visit Moscow. 

Gates also referred to China, saying, "Looking eastward, China is a country at a strategic crossroads. All of us seek a constructive relationship with China, but we also wonder about strategic choices China may make. We note with concern their recent test of an anti-satellite weapon." 

If the United States and its partners fail in Iraq, and chaos tears the nation apart, Gates warned, "every member of this alliance will feel the consequences" of regional turmoil and terrorism. He acknowledged the damage done to America's global standing by its conduct in the campaign against terrorism. 

Sen. John McCain who was present in Munich described Putin's remarks as "the most aggressive speech from a Russian leader since the end of the Cold War." During his formal remarks later, McCain echoed the sentiments of several Americans in attendance, that Russia appeared to be turning more autocratic and its foreign policy was standing increasingly in opposition to Western democracies. 

"Today's world is not unipolar," McCain said, disputing Putin's main theme. "In today's multipolar world, there is no need for pointless confrontation." [Sen. McCain remains a hawk on Iraq war ] 

Reaction in Washington

US spokesman Kurt Volker said he listened to Putin with a sense of disconnect from reality. "That was like a parallel universe. The rest of us were in there talking about common challenges," he said. Gordon Johndroe, President Bush's national security spokesman was "surprised and disappointed" by Putin's remarks. "His accusations are wrong," said Johndroe. But "We expect to continue cooperation with Russia in areas important to the international community such as counterterrorism and reducing the spread and threat of weapons of mass destruction," added Johndroe. 

Stephen Sestanovich, Clinton's ambassador-at-large to states of the former Soviet Union said ;"Most Americans are not aware of how heated and agitated the Russians' discussions are about their relationship with the West." He added, "It may come as a surprise to Americans, but for the Russians, the rhetoric on these questions tends to be pretty grim, among the experts and regular folks, about the deterioration of the relationship. 

"The theme is, 'We're tired of American hegemony, we're tired of being treated like a former superpower doormat, and we're back, and we're mad,' " Sestanovich said.

Prof Charles A. Kupchan of Georgetown University remarked "It's not just about U.S. foreign policy." "It's also about growing self-confidence in Russia, and Putin's determined effort to conduct a more muscular foreign policy, which is at least in part a byproduct of oil revenue," he said. 

Why Russians dislike Washington

The Soviet Union's collapse was ruthlessly exploited by US led West when its capitalist controlled media sang praises of economic reforms and democratization bringing economic disintegration and ruination to Russia .The worst kind of depression in modern history with economic losses more than twice those suffered by USSR in World War II. Russian GDP was trimmed to half and capital investment fell by 80 percent. People were reduced to penury and misery, death rates soared and the population shrank. And in August 1998, the Russian financial system collapsed. 

Putin was appointed Prime Minister in 1999, then acting president. In the 2000 election, Putin took 53% of the vote in the first round and, four years later, he was re-elected with a landslide majority of 71%. After Putin took charge he arrested the decline, brought stability and security and consolidated the disintegrating core of the Russian state. The rise in energy prices, natural and a consequence of Iraq war has benefited Russia immensely. 

Since 1999 Russian economy has averaged 6 to 7% annual growth, its gold and foreign currency reserves are the world's fifth largest. Moscow is booming with new construction, frenzied consumption of Western luxury goods, but over 60% Russians live below the poverty line. Still Putin's rule has brought stability and restored some sense of pride, and he remains very popular.

Stephen F. Cohen in an article "The New American Cold War " wrote in 10 July 2006 issue of US Magazine ,'The Nation" that since 1990s ,Washington has followed hypocritical policy of "strategic partnership and friendship," with Presidents being on first name basis but underneath, all US administrations have followed a ruthless policy of undermining Russia " accompanied by broken American promises, condescending lectures and demands for unilateral concessions. USA has been even more aggressive and uncompromising than was Washington's approach to the Soviet Communist Russia." 

" A growing military encirclement of Russia, on and near its borders, by US and NATO bases, which are already ensconced or being planned in at least half the fourteen other former Soviet republics, from the Baltics and Ukraine to Georgia, Azerbaijan and the new states of Central Asia. The result is a US-built reverse iron curtain and the remilitarization of American-Russian relations. 

" A tacit (and closely related) US denial that Russia has any legitimate national interests outside its own territory, even in ethnically akin or contiguous former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia." Richard Holbrooke, Democratic a democrat Secretary of State in waiting roundly condemned Russia for promoting a pro-Moscow government in neighboring Ukraine, where Russia has centuries of shared linguistic, marital, religious, economic and security ties and declared ' that far-away Slav nation part of "our core zone of security."

"Even more, a presumption that Russia does not have full sovereignty within its own borders, as expressed by constant US interventions in Moscow's internal affairs since 1992. They have included an on-site crusade by swarms of American "advisers," particularly during the 1990s, to direct Russia's "transition" from Communism; endless missionary sermons from afar, often couched in threats, on how that nation should and should not organize its political and economic systems; and active support for Russian anti-Kremlin groups, some associated with hated Yeltsin-era oligarchs. 

It was even suggested that Putin be overthrown by the kind of US-backed "color revolutions" carried out since 2003 in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, and attempted this year in Belarus. US corporate media 'increasingly call the Russian President "thug," "fascist" and "Saddam Hussein," one of the Carnegie Endowment's several Washington crusaders assures us of "Putin's weakness" and vulnerability to "regime change." (Do proponents of "democratic regime change" in Russia care what it might mean destabilizing a nuclear state?) 

" Underpinning these components of the real US policy are familiar cold war double standards, condemning Moscow for doing what Washington does - such as seeking allies and military bases in former Soviet republics, using its assets (oil and gas in Russia's case) as aid to friendly governments and regulating foreign money in its political life. 

"More broadly, when NATO expands to Russia's front and back doorsteps, gobbling up former Soviet-bloc members and republics, it is "fighting terrorism" and "protecting new states"; when Moscow protests, it is engaging in "cold war thinking." When Washington meddles in the politics of Georgia and Ukraine, it is "promoting democracy"; when the Kremlin does so, it is "neo-imperialism."

" And not to forget the historical background: When in the 1990s the US-supported Yeltsin overthrew Russia's elected Parliament and Constitutional Court by force, gave its national wealth and television networks to Kremlin insiders, imposed a constitution without real constraints on executive power and rigged elections, it was "democratic reform"; when Putin continues that process, it is "authoritarianism." 

US has attempted by exploiting Russia's weakness, to acquire the nuclear superiority it could not achieve during the Soviet era. Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, in order to create a system capable of destroying incoming missiles and thereby the capacity to launch a nuclear first strike without fear of retaliation. US coerced Russia to sign an empty nuclear weapons reduction agreement without actual destruction of weapons or verification , but allowing US development of new ones, which Washington has announced. 

" The extraordinarily anti-Russian nature of these policies casts serious doubt on two American official and media axioms: that the recent "chill" in US-Russian relations has been caused by Putin's behavior at home and abroad, and that the cold war ended fifteen years ago. The first axiom is false, the second only half true: The cold war ended in Moscow, but not in Washington." 

"The crusade to transform Russia during the 1990s, with its disastrous "shock therapy" economic measures and resulting antidemocratic acts, further destabilized the country, fostering an oligarchical system that plundered the state's wealth, deprived essential infrastructures of investment, impoverished the people and nurtured dangerous corruption. In the process, it discredited Western-style reform, generated mass anti-Americanism where there had been almost none - only 5 percent of Russians surveyed in May (2006) thought the United States was a "friend" - and eviscerated the once-influential pro-American faction in Kremlin and electoral politics." 

US leaders and media pretend that Washington has a "well-intentioned Russian policy," but "a Russian autocrat ... betrayed the American's faith." After a decade of broken US promises and Yeltsin's boozy compliance, Kremlin declared four years ago, in a Radio commentary "The era of Russian geopolitical concessions [is] coming to an end." (Looking back, the commentator remarked bitterly that Russia has been "constantly deceived.") 

In the undeclared cold war now there are no structures for any substantive negotiations and cooperation, .The "dialogue is almost non-existent ," in regard to nuclear weapons after US's abandonment of the ABM treaty and real reductions, its decision to build an antimissile shield, and talk of pre-emptive war and nuclear strikes which had kept the nuclear peace for nearly fifty years are now open . Reportedly, Bush's National Security Council is contemptuous of arms control as a "baggage from the cold war." US editorial pages are dominated by resurgent cold war orthodoxies, with incessant demonization of Putin's "autocracy" and "crude neo-imperialism". It reads like a bygone Pravda on the Potomac. 

So the discourses at Munich should surprise no one except hypocritical US leaders , its media and its Trojan horses in EU like, UK , Poland and the Czechs. Those in the Baltics and East Europe ,who decry past Soviet domination , would they have preferred Nazi victory and rule .In any case USA was not prepared to expend men and material to liberate East Europe and the Baltics from the Nazis. It were the Soviet people and its armed forces which destroyed 80% of Nazi military machine and sacrificed tens of millions of its citizens and military men. Hollywood only makes films of great US victories. 

Arabs welcome Putin's Middle East visit

Arab world has welcomed President Putin's Middle East visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan .Arab experts feel that the primary aim is to "send a message" to the US that Moscow has a key role to play in this vital region and that it is high time for Washington to give up its policies of domination and destruction. 

"By carrying out this exceptional trip, I believe Putin is at pains to dispatch a message to the United States that the Middle East is not a backyard for Washington, but a vital area for the whole world," Faisal al-Rofou, head of the political science department at the University of Jordan, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. (In Jordan and most Arab countries such comments have the governments' approval) 

Al-Rofou remarked that the Russian leader's Munich comments indicated Moscow was "fed up with the domination polices of George Bush. " 

"Putin is heir to the legacy of a great state - the Soviet Union - and although Moscow's role has receded over the past few years, the Russian leader wants to say that it is high time for Moscow to play that great part again in the affairs of the Middle East and the world at large," he said. "Therefore , his Middle East trip seeks to drive the idea home that we are present in this part of the world and the United States should recognize others' interests in the region," he added. 

Putin's visit would "add significance" to the agreement concluded in Mecca with Saudi brokerage between the key Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas. (Against Israeli protests Moscow had received a Hamas delegation , soon after it won in a free democratic election.)

"I believe the accord will figure largely in Putin's talks with Saudi leaders and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas," he said. Abbas is scheduled to meet with Putin in Amman on 13 February. Palestinian diplomats expected the Mecca declaration to be high on the agenda during the meeting. 

"We count on the Russian support for ensuring a lift of the Western embargo that was imposed on the Palestinian Authority in March" in the wake of the landslide victory scored by Hamas , al-Rofou said. 

During the last Mideast Quartet meeting in Washington at the beginning of this month, the Russian delegate urged a speedy end of the boycott of the Hamas-led government which he said came to office through the ballots. [US led West remains opposed to Hamas as only pro-West puppets are acceptable. So much for Western proclaimed love for democracy.] Besides Russia, the quartet also includes the US, the E U and the U. N. 

Qadri Saeed, at the Cairo-based al-Ahram Strategic Studies, believes that Moscow "stood a good chance of influencing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through its balanced ties with both Fatah and Hamas on one side and between the Palestinians and Israel on the other". 

"In face of the receding US influence in the region due to setbacks in Iraq and other areas, the Russians now feel they can occupy the ensuing vacuum in the region," he concluded  


More by :  K. Gajendra Singh

Top | Analysis

Views: 3325      Comments: 1

Comment i hope Vladimir Putins Government kicked out every last Western Salvation Army
fascist from their country,the very idea of having these fascist Christian Crusaders
walking around in military uniforms is totally appalling

t wolf
13-Jul-2011 17:50 PM

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