Medvedev continues to make waves in America's backyard...Russian President Visits Cuba
Medvedev reaches Cuba: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jt5Hpm5MuQ
Medvedev and Chavez: long-haul partnership: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7nCIv9jn_U
Medvedev aims to boost trade with Brazil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7i28LMgn-k
Medvedev visits Latin America: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI8RFmiyJ9o
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is visiting Cuba to revive ties with the former Soviet Union's Cold War ally. President Medvedev arrived in the capital, Havana, Thursday on the last stop of a Latin America tour. He met with President Raul Castro and visited a new Russian Orthodox cathedral in Havana. It is not clear whether the Kremlin leader will also meet ailing former President Fidel Castro. Russian officials say Mr. Medvedev's tour, which also took him to Venezuela, Brazil and Peru, is meant to boost trade. They deny it is meant to provoke the United States in its traditional sphere of influence. This marks the first visit to Cuba by a Russian leader since 2000, when then-President Vladimir Putin traveled to the island. Russia had been Cuba's main benefactor during the Cold War, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 battered Cuba's economy. Mr. Medvedev traveled to Cuba from Venezuela. On Wednesday, Russia and Venezuela signed a series of agreements, including a deal to work together to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Russian warships that sailed into a Venezuelan port Tuesday are also scheduled to conduct joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy beginning December first. In Brazil, President Medvedev met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Both leaders agreed that Russia should host a summit of the world's four leading emerging market nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China next year. The two presidents also agreed to boost military cooperation and diversify trade. Mr. Medvedev said he hopes to double trade with Brazil in the coming years. Mr. Medvedev was also in Peru during the recent summit of Pacific Rim countries.
Russia, Venezuela Ink Nuclear Cooperation Deal
Russia and Venezuela have signed a nuclear energy cooperation agreement, the Russian state nuclear corporation said on Thursday. The deal was signed by Venezuelan Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno and Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko on Wednesday in the presence of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez. The document provides a framework for cooperation in thermonuclear fusion, the safety of nuclear facilities and radiation sources, as well as the design, development, construction, operation and decommissioning of research reactors and nuclear power plants. It also deals with the use of radioisotopes in industry, medicine, and agriculture, the prospecting and development of uranium deposits, and the development of nuclear infrastructure. Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the Venezuelan capital late on Wednesday for a two-day visit, the first by a Russian head of state for 150 years. The two countries also signed a 25-year intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in oil, gas and power generation.
Russia's Medvedev's Tough Guy Act
This story was written by CBS News reporter Alexsei Kuznetsov in Moscow. Appearances can be deceiving. Six months ago, when Dmitry Medvedev was inaugurated as Russia’s new president, many hoped there would be a thaw in U.S.-Russia relations. The soft-spoken lawyer has never worked for the KGB. His reputation as a liberal seemed to contrast sharply with his predecessor, Vladimir Putin. However, for the past six months it seems that President Medvedev has been working hard to dismantle his liberal image and revive memories of the Cold War. Putin had a reputation for being tough, but it was under Medvedev that Russia used excessive force against Georgia, occupying part of its territory and crushing its military. Medvedev then defied world opinion by accusing the United States of instigating the war and by recognizing the independence of Georgia's two separatist regions.
The Cold War rhetoric continued with the Kremlin blaming the United States for the global financial crisis. "Russia has warned many times of the potentially negative situation that had built up in the American financial system, and that has now transformed into a full-scale international financial crisis," Medvedev said. Moscow has pursued close ties with countries like Venezuela and has even sent warships to the Caribbean for joint naval exercises. The latest from President Medvedev is a threat to deploy missiles on the border with Poland as a response to the U.S. missile-defense program in eastern Europe. It is the first time in decades that Russia's leader has officially announced his readiness to target a NATO country with tactical weapons. "The Iskander missile system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region in order to neutralize, if necessary, the missile defense system," he said. Medvedev's ultimatum was widely acclaimed, not only behind Kremlin walls, but also in the streets.
Many Russians see this as an opportunity for the country to expand its military influence over Europe. "It gives Russia a perfect pretext to deploy its missiles in Kaliningrad, so that we could blanket Europe if need be," said one Russian. Russia’s parliament also fully supports the president on this issue. "You need two to dance a tango," said Konstantin Kosachyov, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee in the Russian Parliament. "And in case the other side continues to be assertive - we have no space to be more liberal, more cooperative. We have to protect our national interests." Iskander missiles have a declared range of only 175 miles, but Russian top brass insist that the range could be extended in order to strike the proposed radar installation in the Czech Republic. Medvedev’s message was delivered just hours after Barack Obama was elected - an unmistakable signal to the incoming U.S. administration. The two leaders are certain to discuss the possibility of a new arms race when they have their first meeting. Whether or not Obama decides to go ahead with missile defense in Europe, the outcome of the summit will set the tone for the next chapter in U.S.-Russian relations.
Russia-Venezuela Exercises Begin
Caribbean war games dubbed successful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp-PFP75hsQ
The Venezuelan and Russian navies have begun joint exercises in the Caribbean Sea, close to US territorial waters. The three-day operation marks the first time that the Russian fleet has been in the area since the end of the Cold War. The Russian navy says it will include anti-aircraft defence, and tactics to combat terrorism and drug-trafficking. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently completed a tour of Latin America that was intended to strengthen his country's influence in the region. Last week, he and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed a deal to promote the development of nuclear energy for civilian use.
Balance of power
About 1,600 Russian and 700 Venezuelan sailors on four Russian ships and 12 Venezuelan vessels are expected to participate in the VenRus 2008 joint exercise in neutral waters over the next three days. The Russian ships, led by the missile cruiser Peter the Great and three support vessels, left the port of La Guaira at dawn on Monday along with three Venezuelan frigates. Ahead of the operation, Venezuelan and Russian officials rejected suggestions that they were aimed at "third countries". "This series of exercises aims to evaluate the skills and capabilities of the fleets of both nations to fight against terrorism and drug-trafficking," said Russian Vice-Admiral Vladimir Korolev, deputy commander of the Northern Fleet. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also dismissed the impact of the Russian naval deployment. "A few Russian ships [are] not going to change the balance of power," she said.
Russian Naval Task Force Starts Deployment in Caribbean
Russia's naval task force from the Northern Fleet has started deployment in the southern Caribbean in preparation for joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy, a Russian Navy spokesman said on Monday. The task force, led by the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser, is on a planned visit that follows a two-month tour of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, which saw Russian ships visiting Libya, Turkey and France. "The Northern Fleet's task force left the Venezuelan port of La Guaira at 15:00 Moscow time [12:00 GMT] and began deployment in the southern part of the Caribbean," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said. Russian and Venezuelan warships will start in a few hours a series of joint naval exercises, dubbed VenRus-2008, in the Caribbean, involving sea rescue operations, maneuvering, and live-ammunition artillery drills. The Russian naval group also includes the Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and two support vessels with a total of about 1,600 naval infantrymen on board. Three frigates, a transport amphibious vessel, four patrol boats, four coastal defense vessels, several naval aviation units, and a Su-30MK2 fighter squadron will take part in the exercise on the Venezuelan side. The two-day exercises will be conducted in line with bilateral agreements and in accordance with international maritime law. They will be held in an area beyond Venezuela's territorial waters, about 150 nautical miles from the South American country's coast. All shipping in the area will be halted for the duration of the exercises.
Pictures from the naval exercise VenRus 2008: