A Superpower Is Reborn - August, 2008

The following acknowledgement by the Western news press is one of the more interesting outcomes of the Russian victory in Georgia.



A Superpower Is Reborn

August, 2008

THE psychodrama playing out in the Caucasus is not the first act of World War III, as some hyperventilating politicians and commentators would like to portray it. Rather, it is the delayed final act of the cold war. And while the Soviet Union lost that epic conflict, Russia won this curtain call in a way that ensures Washington will have to take it far more seriously in the future. This is not just because, as some foreign-policy “realists” have argued, Moscow has enough troops and oil to force us to take into consideration its supposedly irrational fears. Rather, the conflict in Georgia showed how rational Russia’s concerns over American meddling in its traditional sphere of influence are, and that Washington had better start treating it like the great power it still is.

As the cold war ended, the Russians voluntarily, if grudgingly, gave up their cordon sanitaire in Eastern Europe, but they still view it as a necessary zone of protection. The United States brushed off the Russian complaints over the deployment of American missiles into Eastern Europe and Washington’s effort to extend NATO membership to Ukraine and Georgia. But Russians have a good point that, to them, this is as if Moscow had signed up Cuba and Venezuela in a military pact and then tried to plant missiles there pointing north. It was inevitable that the Russians, now restored to prosperity by their oil and gas resources, would push back somewhere, and the hot-headed Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, gave them an easy excuse. What has followed in Washington is a field day of self-righteous indignation as politicians on both sides of the aisle line up to proclaim their solidarity with the little guy and deplore the interference of bullies in nations that just want to be left alone.

But such grandstanding ignores an old truth of geopolitics: great powers live by different rules than do minor ones. They demand respect — and obedience — from their weak neighbors. Sometimes they are explicit about this, as was United States Secretary of State Richard Olney when, in 1895, he declared, with respect to the Monroe Doctrine, that “today the United States is practically sovereign on this continent, and its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it confines its interposition.” Moscow cannot be expected to show any less concern about the political orientation of the former constituent republic on its critical southern frontier. Great powers zealously guard what they benignly refer to as their “sphere of influence.” This may be a shame, but it is the way the world works, and always has. And no country has been more insistent than the United States in demanding that its interests be respected by its neighbors. Latin Americans can attest to that.

The limits of Russia’s post-cold-war retreat have apparently been reached, and the reversal of the power equation has gone too far to be sustained. Today’s leaders in Moscow are determined to protect what they perceive as their vital interests. The task for American leaders is not to pretend that these interests do not exist or can be safely ignored. Rather, it is to work out a modus vivendi based not on wishful thinking or dreams of even greater glory, but on the sober facts of power realities. The first essential step for the leader of the Western alliance is to tone down the bombast and restore a dialogue with Russia. Our peripatetic secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, should have jetted off to Moscow, not Tbilisi. Careless talk about throwing Russia out of the Group of 8 economic powers will only backfire against the West’s own interests. The whole point of such organizations is not that they are a reward for obliging behavior, but rather that they provide a forum for dealing with common problems.

Second, we should shelve loose talk about bringing either Ukraine or Georgia into NATO — at least until we are willing to invite Russia itself. NATO is essentially still a cold-war military pact seeking a new identity that it has not yet found. Admitting these two former Soviet republics would be interpreted by Moscow as anti-Russian provocation — and rightly so. And even if it didn’t provoke a new cold war, it would create serious tensions within NATO itself. Third, we should meet with our NATO partners to work out a common approach to the problem of ethnic separatism. We handled this badly in the Balkans by facilitating the violent dismemberment of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines, and then, over vociferous Russian objections, recognizing the rebellious Serbian province of Kosovo as a separate state. The tearing apart of nations along ethnic lines is not a problem limited to the Balkans. Strong separatist movements exist in several European states, such as Britain, Italy and Spain, and may soon tear Belgium apart. Is this a development that we want to facilitate?

At a time when this nation is bogged down in two costly and seemingly endless wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, it would not seem prudent to pick a fight with Russia over a rebellious, territorially ambitious former province. And it might be wise to recall the warning of John Quincy Adams in 1821 that by going “abroad in search of monsters to destroy” to support the territorial ambitions of others, the United States would “involve herself beyond the power of extraction in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/opinion/24steel.html

Turkey to hold talks with Armenia on proposed Caucasian union project

Turkey has sped up its efforts on works to form a stability and partnership forum in the Caucasus and plans to hold talks with neighboring Armenia, which Ankara has no diplomatic relations for more than a decade. Armenia welcomed Turkey's plan to launch talks, Interfax reported. "The talks would also be held with Armenia. The foreign minister (Ali Babacan) would meet his Russian counterpart (Sergei Lavrov) this week to hold talks. After those talks, the format of the contacts with Armenia would be shaped," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

There is no diplomatic relations between two countries, as Armenia presses the international community to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory despite U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue. Armenia welcomed Turkey's plans to launch talks, Interfax said. "Armenia has always advocated dialog and talks, especially over issues of cooperation and security in our region," Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandian said in answer to questions from a Turkish newspaper, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry's press service. Erdogan pays a visit to Azerbaijan to discuss his proposal of a forming a Caucasian union with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Turkey had proposed the formation of the "Caucasian Stability and Partnership Platform" to resolve the disputed issues in the region through diplomacy and to enhance economic ties after the clashes that erupted between Russian and Georgian forces.

Erdogan said the proposal was welcomed by both the Russian and Georgian leaders. "The recent situation in Georgia had confirmed the urgent need of ensuring peace, trust and stability in the Caucasus. We as Turkey have crucial interest in doing that," he added. The United States has not been informed about such an initiative, Matthew Bryza, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs told on Tuesday. He added he was surprised by Turkey's efforts.

Source: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/w...d=244&sz=73342

Ukraine Shines Its Weapons on Russia

Ukraine celebrated its 17th Independence Day yesterday. For the first time in seven years, military hardware rattled down Kreshchatik, Kiev’s main street. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in his holiday address to the country accused Russia of interfering in his country’s internal affairs and promised to raise the defense budget. But only NATO membership can save the country from the Russian military threat, he said. The day’s celebrations began yesterday morning with prayers for the country in St. Sofia Cathedral. The president has been leading prayers in this day since 2005. This year, he was joined not only by his wife and two daughters, but by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, speaker of the Supreme Rada Arseny Yatsenyuk, ministers and legislators. In addition, representatives of all 19 of the religious faiths practiced in Ukraine took part in the ceremony, which lasted about an hour.

At 10:00, the military parade began, with Yushchenko participating as supreme commander. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, 144 pieces of hardware, 22 planes and eight helicopters took put on show in the parade, as were about 3000 soldiers. Grad, Uragan and Smerch multi-launch missile systems, Osa ballistic missiles and Tunguska missile complexes, Su-25 bombers, MiG-29 and Su-27 jet fighters, Su-25 attack planes and Il-76 and An-26 military transport planes were seen. Yushchenko spoke on Independence Square (the Maidan) before the beginning of the parade. He expressed his unreserved support for Georgia and called on Russia to give up attempts to “change the world order and its democratic values.” He had a message for Russia. “We, the Ukrainian people are the lords of our land. No one will ever decide for us what language to speak in or what church to pray in. No one will ever tell us what road to take. No one will ever measure our borders, islands or peninsulas,” he said.

Leader of the opposition Party of the Regions Viktor Yanukovich had earlier accused the country’s leadership of “irresponsible actions” that dragged Ukraine into the middle of an international conflict and, as a result, “turned Russia from a friendly state and strategic partner into an enemy.” He intends to raise the questions of the responsibility of the Ukrainian leadership for the conflict in South Ossetia and to enquiry about how Ukrainian weapons came to be in Georgian hands. The real pro-Russian force in Ukraine may soon be Tymoshenko, however. Observers say that the Kremlin is putting it weight behind her in the next presidential elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent her congratulations on the holiday, which many considered significant. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent Yushchenko congratulations as well. He urged his colleague to make “a mutual account of interests in the fields of foreign policy and security.” The Russian president has also invited Yushchenko to the President’s Cup horserace on September 5. The race is traditionally attended by the leaders of the CIS member states.

Source: http://www.kommersant.com/p1016164/r...pendence_Day_/

Russia Stokes pro-Kremlin Feeling in Ukraine

Ribbons decorate bridal limousines, while guests wave the Russian flag in the muggy air hanging over the harbour. The Crimean port of Sevastopol is a Ukrainian city, but it is Russian to its core. Moscow's Black Sea fleet retained its historic base in the port after Ukraine's emergence as an independent nation in the 1990s. Moscow's war in Georgia has frightened the Ukrainian government, however, and President Victor Yushchenko has said he will not renew Russia's lease of the port when it expires in 2017. Russia's Georgian onslaught was deeply unpopular in many parts of Ukraine, but in Sevastopol, the sailors of the Russian fleet walk the streets in uniform and are hailed as heroes. A fervour of Russia patriotism has taken hold. Emboldened locals proclaim contempt for all things Ukrainian, newly confident of Moscow's future support for their wish to see the Crimean peninsula absorbed back into the Russian motherland.

Pro-Russian organisations are flourishing. "This city is totally Russian," said Mikhail Brytsyn, leader of the pro-Russian front organisation, the Slavic Party of Sevastopol. "People don't want anything to do with Ukraine here. Sevastopol is where we can reconstruct the historical truth and rejoin the whole of Russia. If Moscow wants, it will be able to do it, because it has the tools here." The Crimea, which is attached to Ukraine by a slender causeway, is fertile ground for such rhetoric. An estimated 100,000 of its 2 million inhabitants hold Russian passports, while a majority of the peninsula's residents are Russian speakers and would happily return to Moscow's fold. A swaggering entrepreneur, Mr Brytsyn recruits young men to his movement from the chain of snooker halls he owns, staging ultra-patriotic rallies. He makes no effort to hide strong Kremlin support, including funding, for his efforts. "We are a third force," he boasted, sitting in a quay-side restaurant. "We are the cordon that supports the Russian fleet. We will defend them against the Ukrainian bailiffs who want to end the fleet's lease in 2017."

It is not an empty boast. The most powerful institution in town is the Russia navy, followed closely by the pro-Moscow city authorities. As a street level enforcer, Mr Brytsyn ranks next - ahead of any presence Kiev can muster. The Charge of the Light Brigade catapulted the Crimea into the British imagination. Despite their eventual defeat in 1856, the tsars held on to the outpost but their Soviet successors laid the ground for future problems by annexing to Ukrainian provincial rule in 1954. After the Soviet Union fell apart, Moscow was forced into the humiliation of seeking a 20-year lease on the home of its fleet, which was signed in 1997. Its future is now back in play. A Kiev think tank last week accused Russia of deliberately cultivating civil unrest in the Crimea. The Centre for Research on the Army, Conversion and Disarmament reported that Russia had created "all the pre-conditions" for war in the Crimea.

Sevastopol's streets are already in ferment. Its inhabitants vow to defend their interests from any possible Ukrainian threat. A permanent picket surrounds a statue of Catherine the Great, the 18th century empress who founded the port, supposedly because Kiev wants to tear it down. Last month tensions erupted into a violent showdown between the Ukrainian and Russian sides when a mob seized a bronze Ukrainian plaque and dumped it in the harbour. Mrs Makarova proudly clutched pictures of the incident, in which Russians broke through a line of Ukrainian marines. "This showed we are strong," the matronly politician said. "Ukraine does not respect us and our rights. We might have another Kosovo. We want Russia intervention to defend us and after Georgia we believe they will defend us." Ukraine's recent declaration that it will not renew the Russian lease on Sevastopol has inflamed anti-Kiev sentiment, as has its ongoing application to join Nato. "As long as the fleet is here, there will be no problems," said Anatoly LItvinov, 59, who works in the base. "I suspect people in the Ukrainian government do not understand the meaning of the fleet for Sevastopol. The fleet is a protection against everything, including Nato."

Paranoia over Ukraine's pro-Western president, Mr Yushchenko, abounds. There are unmistakable parallels with South Ossetia and Abzhakia in Georgia, where Russia nurtured local grievances against a democratic leader. "The Ukrainian politicians do not look after the people," said a tour guide. "They have destroyed friendly relations with Russia. They are losers. Yushchenko is worse than hell." Russia has spared no expense to lavish its largesse on Sevastopol. On a ridge above the city, a huge campus of white tower blocks has been built as an outpost of the Moscow State University, despite Kiev's protests. Perhaps too late, pro-Ukranian forces have emerged to challenge the Crimea's slide towards Russia. Oleg Yatshenko, one of the pioneers of Ukraine's 2004 democratic Orange Revolution, has brought Ukrainian students to Sevastopol. He laments the absence of foreign backing, however. "The Russians support separatists here," he said. "We want to take them on. We want to protest against the break-up of our country but everybody, including the local administration, is against us."

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...n-Ukraine.html

Russia Warns Military Action

Comments made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday warn his country could resort to military action to prevent the United States and its NATO allies from deploying a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia has long opposed its deployment, considering it a threat. "We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way," Mr. Medvedev was quoted as having said to the state-controlled RIA-Novosti news agency. Mr. Medvedev's remarks were contradicted last week by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said the standoff would only be handled diplomatically in a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Tensions have ratcheted up between Russia and the West since its Aug. 8 invasion of Georgia. The invasion provided the impetus for the Aug. 20 conclusion of an agreement between Poland and the United States allowing the deployment of Patriot missiles on Polish soil by 2012. Russian military leaders have engaged in a spate of saber rattling connected with the missile shield's deployment in recent weeks. On Aug. 15, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, a deputy commander of the Russian Air Force, warned Poland was opening itself to "a nuclear strike" by signing the agreement. Other recent reports in the Russian press have indicated plans exist to start arming Russian naval and air assets based in the Kaliningrad enclave, located between Lithuania and Poland, with nuclear weapons in response to the planned American deployment. The Bulletin placed calls to the White House, State Department and the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and no comments were received as of press time.

Source: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g...RMpJAD92Q53VO0

US, Russia Anchor Military Ships in Georgian Ports

A U.S. military ship loaded with aid docked at a southern Georgian port Wednesday, and Russia sent three missile boats to another Georgian port as the standoff escalated over a nation devastated by war with Russia. The dockings came a day after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recognized two Georgian rebel territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, prompting harsh criticism from Western nations. Georgia reacted Wednesday by recalling all but two diplomats from its embassy in Moscow. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas, carrying 34 tons of humanitarian aid, docked in the Black Sea port of Batumi, south of the zone of this month's fighting between Russia and Georgia. The arrival avoided Georgia's main cargo port of Poti, still controlled by Russian soldiers.

The U.S. Embassy in Georgia had earlier said the ship was headed to Poti, but then retracted the statement. Zaza Gogava, head of Georgia's joint forces command, said Poti could have been mined by Russian forces and still contained several sunken Georgian ships hit in the fighting. Poti's port reportedly suffered heavy damage from the Russian military. In addition, Russian troops have established checkpoints on the northern approach to the city and a U.S. ship docking there could be perceived as a direct challenge. Meanwhile, Russia's missile cruiser, the Moskva, and two smaller missile boats anchored at the port of Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, some 180 miles north of Batumi. The Russian navy says the ships will be involved in peacekeeping operations.

Although Western nations have called the Russian military presence in Poti a clear violation of an European Union-brokered cease-fire, a top Russian general has called using warships to deliver aid "devilish." Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn warned that NATO has already exhausted the number of forces it can have in the Black Sea, according to international agreements, and warned Western nations against sending more ships. "Can NATO — which is not a state located in the Black Sea — continuously increase its group of forces and systems there? It turns out that it cannot," Nogovitsyn was quoted as saying Wednesday by the Interfax news agency. Western leaders assailed Russia for violating Georgia's territorial sovereignty. "We cannot accept these violations of international law, of accords for security and cooperation in Europe, of United Nations resolutions, and the taking ... of a territory by the army of a neighboring country," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday.

President Bush, meanwhile, urged Russia to reconsider its "irresponsible decision." "Russia's action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations," Bush said in a statement Tuesday from Crawford, Texas, where he is on vacation. Many of the Russian forces that drove deep into Georgia after fighting broke out Aug. 7 in the separatist region of South Ossetia have pulled back, but hundreds at least are estimated to still be manning checkpoints that Russia calls "security zones" inside Georgia proper. The U.S. and other Western countries have given substantial military aid to Georgia, angering Russia, which regards Georgia as part of its historical sphere of influence.

Russia also has complained bitterly about aspirations by Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO. In Tbilisi, boxes of aid were sorted, stacked and loaded onto trucks Wednesday for some of the tens of thousands of people still displaced by the fighting. Some boxes were stamped "USAID — from the American People." Tim Callaghan, head of the USAID response team, told an AP television crew that aid workers would "continue to assess the needs" of those affected by the fighting and "provide other assistance as required." The United Nations estimated that nearly 160,000 people had to flee their homes, but hundreds have returned to Georgian cities like Gori in the past week.

Russia's ambassador to Moldova, meanwhile, said the country's leaders should be wary of what happened in Georgia and avoid a "bloody and catastrophic trend of events" in the separatist, pro-Russia region of Trans-Dniester. The ambassador, Valeri Kuzmin, said Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia because of "Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia." Trans-Dniester broke away from the former Soviet republic of Moldova in 1990. A war broke out between Moldovan forces and separatists in 1992 leaving 1,500 dead. Trans-Dniester is supported by Russia but is not recognized internationally. Russia has 1,500 troops stationed there to guard weapons facilities.

Source: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i...j53mAD92QN7200

Russia Plans to Raise Navy Presence in Syria: Diplomat

The Russian navy will make more use of Syrian ports as part of increased military presence in the Mediterranean, a Russian diplomat said on Wednesday. The announcement comes as tensions rise between Moscow and the West over Russia's role in Georgia. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad backed Russia's recent offensive on Georgia in support of a separatist province during a visit to Russia last week. "Our Navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase. Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently," Igor Belyaev, the Russian charge d'affaires, told reporters in the Syrian capital. "The visits are continuing," he added. Russia relies on Syria's Tartous port as a main stopping point in the Mediterranean, although ties between the two countries have cooled since the collapse of Communism, when Moscow supplied Syria with billions of dollars worth of arms. Internet news sites have reported that a Russian naval unit, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, docked at Tartous earlier this month. Belyaev would not be drawn on specifics, or whether new military agreements with Syria were reached during Assad's meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a Black Sea resort on Thursday. "The two leaders gave their directions to advance ties in the economy, trade and energy fields, as well as military cooperation," he said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week Russia was prepared to sell Syria more arms as long as they do not disturb the "regional balance of power".


Lavrov was referring to the position of Israel, which has a superior military and is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. Syria, which is technically at war with the Jewish state, has embarked on a drive to upgrade its military in recent years. The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian diplomat as saying that Syria and Russia were working on deals involving Damascus buying anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems. The Syrian government has denied reports in Russian media that Assad had said he was ready to host advanced Russian Iskander missiles, which would be able to hit Israeli territory. Israel made it clear it opposes sale of such weapons to Syria. Diplomats in the Syrian capital said Russia would not easily sell Syria any weapons that could seriously challenge Israel's military superiority. "It remains to be seen how much the Russians would come through for Syria. Damascus also does not want to jeopardize its ongoing peace talks with Israel," one of the diplomats said. Israeli warplanes raided a target in eastern Syria in September. The two countries have since embarked on indirect peace talks. The United States, Israel's chief ally, said the target was a nuclear complex under construction with the help of North Korea. Syria denied the accusation and said it had no secret nuclear facilities.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/world...39985220080827

Russia starts naval exercise off Far East's Kamchatka

Russia's Pacific Fleet, Naval Aviation and coastal defense troops have launched a joint exercise off the Far East's Kamchatka Peninsula, a spokesman for the fleet said on Tuesday. Captain 1st rank Roman Martov said the scheduled combat exercise of diversified forces would involve over 15 ships, as well as submarines and aircraft. He also said that during the maneuvers the troops "will master crew interaction, forces interoperability and perform over 20 kinds of combat drills". Besides missile and gunnery firing and torpedo attacks, the exercise will feature minefield training. The centerpiece of the maneuvers will be joint cruise missile launch at a surface target performed by a surface ship, a submarine and coast-based weaponry.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080826/116283601.html

Russia to keep recovered Georgian weapons - military prosecutor

Russia will not return the weapons and military hardware its troops collected after Georgian forces abandoned them following their August 8 offensive on South Ossetia, Russia's chief military prosecutor said Wednesday. "I believe that the hardware and weapons, which were used for military actions against our peacekeepers as well as for the massacre of unarmed peaceful citizens, cannot be returned. This is not the way it has to be done," prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said in an interview to be published Thursday in the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily. The prosecutor said that in line with existing norms and regulations all abandoned weapons would be collected, counted and stored at Russian military installations. Then, he said, depending on the state of a weapon, it would be destroyed or recommended for further use. "Our main task for now is to compile a full and objective list of the weapons so that they cannot be stolen or used against civilians," Fridinsky added. Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian military's general staff, said last week that Georgia had pursued a program to increase its military capability over the past few years. According to the Russian military, since 2005, Georgian tank numbers increased from 98 to 183, armored vehicles from 83 to 134, artillery pieces from 96 to 238, combat helicopters from three to nine and warplanes from seven to nine. Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to regain control over the separatist republic, which split from Tbilisi in the early 1990s. Most people living in South Ossetia have Russian citizenship and Moscow subsequently launched an operation to "force Georgia to accept peace." The operation was concluded on August 12. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees Tuesday recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and called on other countries to follow suit.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080827/116329511.html

Russia Adopts Blustery Tone Set by Envoy

Here is one measure of the aggressive shift in Russian foreign policy in recent weeks: Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s representative to NATO, a finger-wagging nationalist who hung a poster of Stalin in his new ambassadorial office, is not sounding so extreme any more. “There are two dates that have changed the world in recent years: Sept. 11, 2001, and Aug. 8, 2008,” Mr. Rogozin said in an interview, explaining that the West has not fully grasped how the Georgia conflict has heightened Russians’ fears about being surrounded by NATO. “They are basically identical in terms of significance.” “Sept. 11 motivated the United States to behave really differently in the world,” he said. “That is to say, Americans realized that even in their homes, they could not feel safe. They had to protect their interests, outside the boundaries of the U.S. For Russia, it is the same thing.”

Only a few months ago, the blustery Mr. Rogozin, 44, was regarded even in the Kremlin as more performance artist than diplomat. Established officials sometimes rolled their eyes when he was mentioned, as if to acknowledge that Vladimir V. Putin, president at the time, had sent him to NATO to do a little trash-talking to rattle the West. Yet Mr. Rogozin’s arrival at alliance headquarters in Brussels in January might be seen as an omen of the crisis to come. He quickly scorned what he called the “blah, blah, blah” diplomatic niceties and pounded away at a single theme: after years of affronts, Russia had had enough. Its invasion of Georgia three weeks ago made that apparent, as did its decision on Tuesday to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway enclaves at the center of the hostilities. Now the rising stature of Mr. Rogozin, who called NATO criticism of Russia’s military action “bigoted and indecent,” underscores Russia’s new tone — one adopted by both Mr. Putin, now prime minister, and President Dmitri A. Medvedev. Mr. Rogozin has become a prominent Russian voice even as he remains a provocative figure in Moscow who led a political party that espoused anti-immigrant appeals — including an ad showing dark-skinned immigrants throwing watermelon rinds on the ground — described by some opponents as racist.

After the Georgia conflict broke out, NATO said there would be no “business as usual” in relations with Russia, and Russia in turn suspended some military cooperation. The Kremlin refrained from canceling all ties, saying it would continue to provide assistance in Afghanistan. Still, Mr. Medvedev has assumed a tough stance. “We do not need illusions of partnership,” he said Monday in a nationally televised appearance with Mr. Rogozin. “When we are being surrounded by bases on all sides, and a growing number of states are being drawn into the North Atlantic bloc and we are being told, ‘Don’t worry, everything is all right,’ naturally we do not like it.” “If they essentially wreck this cooperation, it is nothing horrible for us,” he said “We are prepared to accept any decision, including the termination of relations.” Mr. Rogozin is a charismatic orator with a rascally sense of humor, and he at times has succeeded in charming his rivals in Brussels even as he was upbraiding them. More than once in the interview, he ended long discourses in Russian about his views on relations with the West by uttering a single English word that captured how he likes to be viewed: “Troublemaker!”

Mr. Rogozin speaks several languages — he judges English to be his fifth best — but said he shunned some of the diplomatic trappings of life in Brussels, preferring a BMW motorcycle to a chauffeur. He lives there with his wife, and he has a son and two young grandchildren in Moscow. Despite his harsh words for NATO governments, he expressed fondness for the time he had spent traveling in the United States, noting that his wife lived in New York City for seven years when she was a child and her father was a Soviet diplomat there. “She simply understands Americans,” Mr. Rogozin said. “Sometimes I say to her, ‘How come they do not understand me?’ and she says, ‘Look,’ and she explains. She helps decode for me.” He said that when he was in the United States recently, he met many officials and was pleased to meet one particular former cold-war foe, Henry A. Kissinger. Mr. Rogozin said that in the West, the current crisis might be considered an ethnic spat between Georgia and South Ossetia that got out of hand, but in Russia, it was seen quite differently. He said Russians now understood that the United States was trying to encircle them, in part by siding with the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, whom he called unstable.

A poll released last week by the Levada Center, a polling institute in Moscow, backed up his assertions, showing that 74 percent of Russians polled believed that Georgia was a pawn of the United States. Asked the cause of the crisis, 49 percent cited Washington’s policies in the region, while 32 percent blamed Georgia. Only 5 percent held Russia responsible. Mr. Rogozin added that the West had not understood Russian feelings of resentment over Kosovo, which the West recognized this year as independent from Serbia, an ally of Moscow, despite Russian objections. He said the Kremlin bristled at NATO criticism of the Russian military action as not “proportional” because it was far more restrained than the NATO bombing of Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, in 1999. “Listen, you in Yugoslavia, you did something normal?” he said. “You have no moral right to say it is not proportional. If we did proportionally in the Caucasus what you did in Serbia, then Tbilisi would have been demolished.” Tbilisi is Georgia’s capital. Perhaps Mr. Rogozin was fated to be a player in this conflict — he shares a birth date, Dec. 21, with Russia’s nemesis, Mr. Saakashvili. Yet before he went to Brussels, he was considered a political has-been, having alienated the Kremlin by making staunchly nationalist statements when he was a member of Parliament.

His former party, Rodina, campaigned on a platform opposing the immigration of people from the Caucasus (including Georgia) and Central Asia. In 2005, Rodina produced the commercial with the immigrants and watermelon rinds. Mr. Rogozin appears, as does text that says, “Let’s clear the city of garbage.” He denied at the time that the commercial was racist, but the party was banned from local Moscow elections for promoting ethnic hatred. Soon after, he published a political autobiography, “Enemy of the People.” He thus remains a polarizing figure in Russia, even as the foreign policy establishment moves closer to his hard-line views. “I myself was perplexed when I heard of this appointment,” said Pavel S. Zolotaryov, deputy director of the Institute for the U.S. and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences. American officials at NATO would not comment on Mr. Rogozin. Georgia’s representative to NATO, Revaz Beshidze, said that no matter how outlandishly Mr. Rogozin acted, his behavior had served a purpose. “He is implementing strict instructions from Moscow,” Mr. Beshidze said.

Mr. Rogozin said he regretted his conduct as a politician and was hoping to rehabilitate his reputation through his work in Brussels. He argued that a little-noticed effect of the Georgia conflict was that it had brought together ethnic Russians and other groups in Russian areas of the Caucasus, like Chechens. All now have joined to oppose Mr. Saakashvili, he said. “We have a unique chance to overcome this ethnic nationalism in Russia, to stop entering into internal conflicts in Russia,” Mr. Rogozin said. Still, sometimes he cannot help himself. After arriving in Brussels, he put up in his office a patriotic World War II poster with Soviet soldiers, weapons in hand, next to an adoring portrayal of Stalin. He fancied it as a piece of history. Others at NATO headquarters were not as amused. Mr. Rogozin relented and removed it. He recounted in the interview how he took it to the United States on his recent visit and gave it to Mr. Kissinger. Then he paused and grinned. “Troublemaker!” he said

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/wo...moscow.html?hp

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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. Please note that the comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years has helped me see the Russian nation as the last front on earth against the scourges of Westernization, Americanization, Globalism, 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/European civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. These sobering realizations 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 perhaps the only voice preaching about the strategic importance of Armenia's close ties to the Russian nation. 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 for me 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, dare I say voice, inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and fully integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relief, 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 generally speaking Armenians are collectively recognizing the vital/strategic importance of Armenia's ties with the Russian nation. Today, no man, no political party is capable of driving a wedge between Armenia and Russia. That danger has passed. Anglo-American-Jewish agenda in Armenia failed. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. 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 anything 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.

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 insult/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 historical record and 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.