Putin Touts Resurgent Russia - 2007

Analysis: 'Moscow also has interests'


Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a special meeting Tuesday to talk about relations with Russia at a time when Moscow seems willing to give succor to Israel's worst enemies: Iran and Hamas. Russia is doing all it can to come up with a compromise proposal that would keep the Iranian nuclear issue from going to the UN Security Council for sanctions. And Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is due to visit Moscow at the end of the week. Olmert called together Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, National Security Council head Giora Eiland and top intelligence officers to discuss the situation. He didn't invite the Russians. If he had, this is likely what he would have heard: "Ehud, no offense intended, but you Israelis are a myopic, self-centered people. You think that your interests are all that matters in the world. But we also have interests, and those interests are served both by enriching Iran's uranium and by talking to Hamas. Let me explain.

"First regarding the Iranians, believe you me, we have no interest in seeing the ayatollahs have the power to blow up the world. We're right in their neighborhood, for goodness sake, and we know who they are and what they are capable of. We have made it clear that if they don't agree to our compromise to enrich their uranium, we will support sanctions at the UN to stop them from getting nukes, because, like I said, we know who they are and what they are capable of.

"But, Ehud, there are other issues involved. First of all, there is money. The nuclear reactor we are building for Iran at Bushehr is worth almost $1 billion to us. I repeat, $1 billion. We are not America. That is a lot of money, and it's a lot of money that would go to other contractors in other countries if the UN imposes sanctions on Iran. "Sanctions mean that we can't service Bushehr, or build other reactors the Iranians want built. Sanctions mean we also can't sell the Iranians arms, which also brings us billions of dollars more.

"So, obviously, we don't want sanctions. But we also don't want a nuclear Iran. If we enrich the uranium, as we have done for states that used to be in the Soviet sphere, then we can keep the Iranians from getting nukes, and fend off sanctions which will hurt us.That's good, no? "Secondly, have you ever heard of Nagorno Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, or how about the Caspian Sea. Probably not, because your head is too deep into your own problems. "But we have a little situation of our own down south between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. I don't want to bore you with details of a conflict that makes the Palestinian-Israeli problem look simple, but there is a convergence of Iranian and Russian interests on the side of Armenia, against those of Turkey which sides with the Azerbaijanis. "Also the Caspian Sea. You Israelis carefully watch the Kinneret to see how much it rises or falls every day, and we think that is very quaint. We too are watching a sea, the Caspian, and it is a wee bit more important.

"Five countries border this sea, which is rich in oil and natural gas, and the countries are trying to divvy up who gets what, and through what pipeline it will all go to market. Russia and Iran are two of those countries; Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan are the others. Again, I'll spare you all the details, but on many of these issues Iranian and Russian interests are similar. "So, in short, we don't want to completely alienate the Iranians, because we cooperate with them in other spheres that are very important to us. And we'll do what we have to so as not to alienate them.

Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...cle%2FShowFull

Russian general says: U.S. expansion in zone of influence top threat

Russia's top military officer said the United States is expanding its economic, political and military presence in Russia's traditional zones of influence and described that as the top national security threat, the latest signal of a growing chill in relations. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the military's General Staff, said Russia now faces even greater military threats than during the Cold War and the nation needs a new military doctrine to respond to these challenges, according to a speech posted on the Defense Ministry's Web site Friday. "Russia's cooperation with the West on the basis of forming common or close strategic interests hasn't helped its military security," Baluyevsky said in the speech, delivered at a recent security conference in Moscow. "Moreover, the situation in many regions of the world which are vitally important for Russia and near its borders has sometimes become more difficult." Russian-U.S. ties have worsened steadily over disagreements on Iraq and other global crises, and U.S. concerns about an increasingly authoritarian streak in Russia's domestic policy and strong-arming of ex-Soviet neighbors. Baluyevsky referred to what he called "the U.S. military leadership's course aimed at maintaining its global leadership and expanding its economic, political and military presence in Russia's traditional zones of influence" as a top threat for Russia's national security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted angrily to U.S. plans to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying Moscow does not trust U.S. claims they were aimed to counter missile threats from Iran and will take relevant countermeasures. Both countries are former Soviet satellites that became NATO members. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, said Russia would find an "intellectual response" to the U.S. move and not plunge into a new arms race, according to an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine posted on the ministry's Web site Friday. Russian officials have assailed the United States and its NATO allies for their refusal to ratify an amended version of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty which regulates the deployment of military aircraft, tanks and other heavy non-nuclear weapons around the continent. Russia has ratified the amended version of the treaty signed in 1999, but the United States and other NATO members have refused to do that until Russia abides by its commitment to withdraw troops from the ex-Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia. Russia said the link was irrelevant, and threatened to opt out of the treaty.

In remarks posted Friday, Lavrov said that the failure to ratify the amended document had "led to very serious imbalances between the armed forces," since the arsenals of former Soviet allies which that have joined NATO were counted alongside Soviet weapons in the original 1990 CFE Treaty. Amid growing distrust of U.S. intentions, Russia's lawmakers and commentators reacted nervously to comments by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates naming Russia as a potential threat. "We don't know what's going to develop in places like Russia and China, in North Korea, in Iran and elsewhere," Gates told a House of Representatives committee meeting earlier this week, according to a Pentagon transcript. The daily newspaper Gazeta on Friday said that Gates' statement could "go down to history books as a starting point for a new twist of the Cold War." Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said Gates' comments signaled "U.S. attempts to draw our nation into a new arms race," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. "We will have to find an asymmetrical response."

Source: http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradent...d/16667804.htm

Putin Touts Resurgent Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Kremlin critics of trying to weaken Russia's increasing influence as a global power. The Russian president used an interview with Indian media, and a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, to hit back at Western critics who he says are trying to put Russia in its place. In the interview -- broadcast on January 23 in India ahead of Putin's scheduled trip there -- the Russian president dismissed those who he said were accusing Russia of trying to regain its former "superpower" status. He said the use of such Cold War terminology is an attempt to "undermine trust in Russia" and "create some sort of enemy."

On The Rise

The same day, at a news conference after talks on economic cooperation with Prodi in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin answered critics who say he has slashed democratic freedoms and used his country's abundant energy resources as a political sledgehammer. Putin may have dismissed the term "superpower," but he did say Russia's influence is on the rise. He warned skeptics not to underestimate the country's pivotal role in the world or ignore its interests. "In these conditions, Russia's economic, military, and political abilities are clearly growing, and a competitor that was nearly written off is emerging in the world -- even if this movement is not yet so noticeable at first sight," Putin said. "This seems to me the main reason [for criticism] -- the unwillingness to consider Russia's legitimate interests and the wish to put her in a place someone else has chosen for her," he added.

Not A One-Power World

Without mentioning the United States by name, Putin suggested that in the years since the Cold War ended, a false impression has developed that the world revolves around U.S. interests and influence. The word "Iraq" never crossed his lips, but his reference to the "growing number of crises" spawned by this false sense of U.S.-centrism was unmistakable. "Since the collapse of the bipolar world and the two confronting systems, an illusion has arisen among some people that the world had became monopolar and that all the world problems could be quite easily resolved from one center," Putin said. "It turned out that this was not the case. Such approaches have led to a growing number of crises, while the means to resolve them have become more limited."

U.S. Speech

As Putin was speaking to reporters in Sochi, his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush was polishing his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Bush's speech, which was shown on U.S. national television that evening, included several new domestic policy initiatives and a plea to the new opposition-controlled Congress to agree to his plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. Bush mentioned Russia only twice: as a U.S. partner working for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and a fellow member of the "quartet" seeking a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestinians. Putin's rejoinder to his Western detractors came just a few hours after Russia's Supreme Court upheld the forced closure of a human rights nongovernmental organization that has criticized Russian for perpetrating alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya. The Russian-Chechen Friendship group has published several reports alleging that Russian forces and their Chechen allies are guilty of torture, kidnappings, and the murder of civilians. A regional court ordered the group's closure in October 2006. Amnesty International criticized the January 23 ruling as a "double blow" to freedom of expression and civil society.

Source: http://www.huliq.com/7729/putin-touts-resurgent-russia

United Russia backs ban on "dollar", "euro" terms among MPs

The pro-presidential United Russia faction backs a proposal by the head of Russia's Public Chamber to ban MPs and officials from using the terms "dollar" and "euro" in domestic economic debates, a faction top official said Friday. "This is a very timely initiative," Vyacheslav Volodin said commenting on the initiative voiced by academician Yevgeny Velikhov Thursday. "We believe we should use only the word 'ruble'." "If today government members [and] deputies calculate expenses and revenue in foreign currency, speak and think about foreign currency, we will never establish our national currency," he said. "We need to start with ourselves, to convince society that our ruble is the most stable currency, and that it's strengthening," Volodin said. Volodin said the lives of Russians could improve if officials dealing with finance and economics were to begin counting everything in rubles.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20060414/46423009.html



Recent events in Ukraine and Georgia and the recent scandal involving British diplomats in Russia have hinted at Russia's attempts to reassert control over its interior and periphery. Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration has enacted laws restricting nongovernmental organizations and has used natural gas policy to impose Putin's will on Russia and the former Soviet states as well as Europe. Moscow is preparing to try reversing the tide of pro-Western "color revolutions" that have swept the region and shield its borders from further Western political and economic encroachment by fortifying its near abroad. In the next several years, Putin will consolidate his power and find a way to remain in a position of influence beyond the March 2008 elections.


Russia has been especially active during the past several months in consolidating power in the Kremlin and reinforcing its position in its near abroad. The "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union (FSU) have destabilized the Russian flank and precipitated moves to centralize and reinforce Moscow's power in the region. Recent incidents in several FSU countries resulted from Russian action or reaction and represent the former regional overlord's attempts to slowly start its comeback. Russia has for the past two decades conducted a policy of trying to strengthen itself through economics at the cost of geographical influence. Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently decided that this plan will not give Russia the best chance to remain a strong player in the world arena. Thus, in efforts to tie the periphery back to Russia, Putin is making moves to create new tensions -- or exacerbate old ones -- in the friction points surrounding Russia.


Ukraine has been at the forefront of international attention of late, primarily because recent events there have affected Western European states. The Russo-Ukrainian natural gas debacle, which reduced supplies to Germany and other countries, put Europe on alert and led it to reconsider its current reliance on Russian energy. In particular, Germany will delay and possibly scrap the construction of a natural gas pipeline directly connecting it to Russia. The second gas shutoff to Europe, blamed on cold weather and Ukraine's blatant siphoning of natural gas meant for delivery to the Continent, has further cast Russia as an unreliable energy partner. However, Russia is willing to accept this economic risk to gain geopolitically. Endangering Ukraine's political shift toward the West is worth the inconvenience; Russia considers Ukraine's alignment a paramount concern because Ukraine's geography is vital to Russian security and physical integrity. Without Ukraine, Russia's ability to control Belarus, the North Caucasus and other areas would be greatly diminished. Putin might say he is involved in Ukrainian politics out of concern for the Russian minority there, but he is certainly involved for his own interests. The Ukraine situation is further complicated by Russia and Ukraine's
takeover of each other's strategic objects on the Crimean peninsula.

Operating under a lease, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has its only warm-water station on the peninsula and also maintains bases and lighthouses along the coast. The Ukrainians are drawing attention to the area in a bid to sway the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary elections in favor of President Viktor Yushchenko's faction. Russia is portrayed as an aggressor and interloper, and the nationalistic element in Ukraine is provoking hostilities in the Crimea in order to inspire support for Yushchenko's Western-leaning Our Ukraine party, which came to power in the Orange Revolution, in the run up to the elections. Russia, meanwhile, will certainly support whichever candidate toes its line during the elections.

The Caucasus

Trouble in the Caucasus has been prevalent lately as well. The region's very nature lends to outside interference; the many disparate groups in the Caucasus have warred for centuries and are vulnerable to Russian influence. The mountainous terrain is conducive to ethnic and social instabilities and tensions, of which outsiders have always taken advantage. Hostilities are on the rise between Russia and Georgia after a series of announcements regarding the future of Georgia's secessionist regions; tensions escalated further after three explosions cut off energy supplies from Russia. On Jan. 17, Russia announced it would consider heeding the Georgian Parliament's request to withdraw peacekeepers from the disputed Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On the same day, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced an additional military draft. This series of actions, plus the recurrent tensions in the Gali region on the Abkhaz border, indicate a willingness among both the Russians and the Georgians to escalate the situation.

Explosions Jan. 22 along two natural gas pipelines and an electricity transmission line -- all close to the Georgian border in Russia -- precipitated yet another confrontation. The incidents disabled energy delivery to Georgia, which quickly rerouted supplies from Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Saakashvili had been pushing to diversify the natural gas supply even before the explosions, and the transition to alternative sources was relatively easy. The question about the explosions is not who benefited from them -- the question is who among the beneficiaries took the initiative? Georgian authorities have accused the Russians, specifically Russia's military intelligence agency GRU. The Russians have blamed the Chechens -- the Northern Caucasus has not grown any less volatile -- and pinned a charge of terrorism to the investigation.

However, there are additional implications. The natural gas pipelines were struck in Russia's North Ossetia, just across the border from the Georgian-controlled South Ossetia. The electricity transmission line went down in Russia's Karachaevo-Cherkessia, near Abkhazia. Both of Georgia's breakaway regions are propped up by Russia, which also supports the Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti, where Russia holds an army base. Russia could use the energy infrastructure attacks to try to destabilize Georgia and its leadership, which came to power through the "Rose Revolution." Russia has shown that it is willing to do what is needed to achieve its goals, even if it means withdrawing support from certain regions.

Also in the Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is resurfacing. The Armenian-populated area of Azerbaijan was taken by force by militants who also secured a corridor to Armenia and a surrounding barrier. A tenuous cease-fire has been in place since 1994, and now French President Jacques Chirac has invited the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet in Paris in February to negotiate a settlement. However, Azerbaijan is in a position to escalate hostilities. Since his recent re-election, President Ilham Aliyev has been consolidating power in preparation for the income Azerbaijan will receive when the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline launches (which is due any time now). The revenue will surpass anything Azerbaijan has ever collected, and the possibility of it buying arms and attacking is substantial.

During his visit to Baku on Jan. 24, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia wants to station peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh rather than risk depending on troops from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and that it is willing to arm both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani defense minister, in turn, said if the negotiations do not go well, Azerbaijan is ready to retake Nagorno-Karabakh by force. Armenia receives support from its diaspora community, Russia and, to a lesser degree, from Iran and the United States. Azerbaijan counts on U.S. financial and military support, as well as heavy Western investments into its energy sector. Russia would stand to benefit from its involvement in this conflict as well, de-stabilizing both of the factions and establishing itself in the Transcaucasus.

Source: http://www.stratfor.com/products/pre....php?id=261389

In related news:

Russia Launches Massive Air Force Exercise

The Russian military on Tuesday launched a massive exercise that will involve dozens of long-range bombers test-firing cruise missiles, the Associated Press news agency reported quoting the nation’s air force chief. The maneuvers will involve over 50 Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M aircraft flying missions over the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Black and Caspian Seas, Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov said, according to the Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies. He said it will be the largest exercise involving Russian long-range bombers in years, the agencies reported. A flow of petrodollars has allowed the Russian government to steadily increase military budget in recent years, a sharp contrast with dire funding shortages after the 1991 Soviet collapse. Russian military exercises have grown in scope and become more regular.

Source: http://www.mosnews.com/news/2006/09/27/airforce.shtml

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.