Russia Issues New Warning to West - December, 2008

Russia Issues New Warning to West

December, 2008

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the West against seeking to advance its interests in former Soviet republics at the expense of Russia. Lavrov told a group of foreign businessmen meeting in Moscow his country understands that the United States and Europe have legitimate interests in the region. But he said they should build ties through "legal, understandable and transparent methods," not what he called "behind the scenes meddling," which he said leads to crisis situations. The Russian minister indirectly mentioned his country's August conflict with Georgia, and repeated Russia's opposition to U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Central Europe. He said his country is counting on the future administration of Barack Obama to confirm pledges to cooperate with Russia in fighting common threats such as international terrorism and weapons proliferation. Russia calls the U.S. missile plan a threat to its security. U.S. officials say the proposal to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and radar guidance in the Czech Republic is aimed at protecting the European allies against threats from countries such as Iran.


Russia, Argentina Tout World Without US Domination

Fur hat crowns fruitful presidential talks:

The presidents of Russia and Argentina called for a world not dominated by the United States as the two countries signed deals Wednesday to cooperate in energy, agriculture and science and other areas. The agreements dealing with nuclear and conventional power, scientific research and food exports underlined Russia's growing interest in developing relations with Latin America. They come shortly after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a high-profile trip to the region. "The domination of one state, even the biggest, most powerful or most successful one, is unacceptable in any case," Medvedev said. After the signing, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez expanded on the theme, complaining how "powerful states" had forced economic and security policies onto others. "We see the results of such policy — the whole planet is paying for it," she said. Medvedev and Fernandez witnessed the signings and issued a joint statement in which they "expressed support for the multilateral approach ... in the search for peaceful resolution of intergovernmental conflicts and the new problems of forming a multipolar world," a phrase implying opposition to the United States' perceived dominance of world affairs. Their joint statement also called for peaceful resolution of the dispute between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands. The two countries fought a war over the South Atlantic islands in 1982, which ended with Britain retaining control. The call said the resolution should take place "in accordance with a U.N. mandate" — referring to a 1965 U.N. resolution that called for negotiations between the two countries. Britain has rejected the call for talks, saying there is nothing to negotiate since it considers the islands British.


Russia's Trade Surplus up 51.6% to $182.8 bln in Jan.-Oct.

Russia's trade surplus grew 51.6% to $182.8 billion in January-October 2008, the Federal Customs Service said on Monday. Trade totaled $636 billion in the first 10 months of the year, up 46.3% year-on-year. Trade with non-CIS countries stood at $541.6 billion, up 46.9%, while trade with CIS states totaled $94.4, up 42.6%. Russia sold 147.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas worth $55 billion during the period. Sales to non-CIS countries stood at 131.4 billion, up 10.8%, while exports to other CIS members declined 5.4% to 13.4 billion cubic meters. Sales of crude oil to non-CIS countries fell 8.1% to 170.2 million metric tons, worth $128.3 billion. Gasoline and fuel oil sales dropped 43.8% and 6.4%, respectively to 1.55 million and 27.3 million tons. Gasoline sales to CIS countries grew 33.3% to 1.55 million metric tons worth $974 million, while fuel oil sales doubled to 2.5 million tons, worth $2.2 billion. Coal exports grew 0.41% in the reporting period to 81.2 million metric tons, while revenue from coal sales increased by 41.6% to $6.2 billion. The share of food products in Russian exports dropped from 1.7% to 1.1% in January-October. Wheat exports totaled at 8.8 million tons worth $2.3 billion, of which sales to non-CIS countries grew 20.2% to 7.9 million tons. Sales of barley dropped 40.3% year-on-year. The share of vehicles and equipment in Russian imports fell from 56.3% to 53.6% in January-October. Exports of cars and trucks grew 37.7% and 39.5%, respectively.


Russia's General Staff Announces Strategic Drills With Belarus

Russia's Defense Ministry has decided to intensify combat training in the Armed Forces and to hold joint military exercises with Belarus in 2009, the chief of Russia's General Staff said on Wednesday. "Combat training in the Russian Armed Forces will be more intensive. Next year we are planning to hold the Autumn-2009 and West-2009 strategic exercises, involving a large number of personnel from several military districts, fleets, and the Belarusian Armed Forces," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said at a meeting with foreign military attaches. Makarov admitted on Wednesday that August's five-day war with Georgia had revealed a number of serious drawbacks in the combat effectiveness of the Russian Armed Forces. He also said it had underlined the need for the country's ongoing military reform. "We had serious drawbacks in this conflict and learned a number of lessons. We will deal with them as soon as possible," Makarov said. Moscow launched a five-day military operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" after Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to regain control over the republic, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s. A number of Russian peacekeepers and a reported 1,600 South Ossetian residents lost their lives during the Georgian attack. Makarov also said all future military exercises, from battalion level and higher, would be conducted on unfamiliar training grounds outside the military districts where the units are stationed.


Chechen Commander Killed in Turkey

A former Chechen separatist field commander has been killed in Istanbul, Turkish media reports. Islam Dzhanibekov was shot dead on Tuesday outside his apartment in the city, where he has been living for the past six years. Turkish newspaper Sabah cites a police source as saying that the killers used a Groza pistol, which is often associated with Russian special forces. Turkish police are investigating, but have not commented so far on the crime. In September 2008 another Chechen militant was killed with a Groza. Gadgy Adilsultanov died during a conflict over humanitarian aid being collected in Turkey for the Chechen Republic. The MSP Groza is a small, soundless pistol, developed for the KGB and GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate Of The Russian General Staff ) in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This compact, non-automatic weapon is practically silent thanks to a specially designed cartridge. It’s a double-barreled gun, using 7.62 x 38 caliber ammunition. The Groza remains in the arsenal of Russia’s special services.


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