Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Demonisation Of Russia In American Media Ramps Up

Russia Warns Of A New Cold War Over US Missile Defence In Europe

Russia Promises To Counter Missile Deployments With "Our Own Measures"

Relations between Russia and the United States remain tense, despite the surprise visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.The visit was also a surprise to Israel, who were expecting Rice to visit them. But problems between Russia and the United States are multiplying so rapidly, Rice had little choice but to change her plans.

That Rice saw the need to visit Russia and meet with Russian president Putin, and his senior ministers, is being viewed in the Russian media as the US showing signs of weakness and fear in the face of Russia's growing power and influence, while the United States' power and influence fades, mostly off the back of the churning defeat of the US military in Iraq.

The new round of Russia demonisation in the US, by the media and prominent politicians, began with a fairly mundane statement by Russian president Vladimir Putin about the global threats Russia faces as it re-secures its place in the pantheon of world powers. Putin was speaking during annual Russian celebrations that mark the stunning, but costly, Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War 2.

Putin said that he could see parallels between the threats his people faced during World War 2 and the rapidly changing power paradigms of today. The quote was enough for the American media to go hog wild about how Russia had "compared the US to Nazis".

Putin's quotes, however, were far more interesting, and nuanced, than that simple tabloid quality headline :

“We do not have the right to forget the causes of any war, which must be sought in the mistakes and errors of peacetime.”

“Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing,” he said. “They are only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats, as during the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world.”

Of course it is in the interests of the Bush administration, and their media allies, to demonise Putin's Russia as much as possible, mostly due to Russia's opposition to American plans to seed missile caches across Europe, under the 'missile shield' cache.

Americans, by and large, see no problem with the US deploying missiles to friendly nations in Europe, even if they happen to be hard up against Russia's borders.

But Russians hate the US plans with a passion, as do the Chinese, though far more quietly than their Russian allies.

Russia is also opposed to an independent Kosovo, now being shuttled towards reality by the UN, and fully backed by the Bush administration, and frowns on the expansion of NATO. Iraq, of course, still concerns the Russians immensely, as they fear the spread of the war into other Middle East countries, particularly Iran, with whom they have multi-billion dollar energy and trade deals.

From the New York Times :

Mr. Putin’s analogy was a small part of a larger speech, otherwise unambiguously congratulating Russian veterans of World War II, known here as the Great Patriotic War. Mr. Putin spoke from a podium in front of Lenin’s mausoleum on Red Square before troops mustered for a military parade.

The United States, Mr. Putin has maintained, is seeking to establish a unipolar world to replace the bipolar balance of power of the cold war era.

In a speech in Munich on Feb. 10, he characterized the United States as “One single center of power: One single center of force. One single center of decision making. This is the world of one master, one sovereign.”

On the growing US threat to Russia via its missile shield expansion, the Gulf Times reports :
Russia will take “counter-measures” against elements of a US missile defence shield planned for Europe, the head of the Russian armed forces’ General Staff said yesterday.

“If we see a threat emanating from those objects ... we will unambiguously plan actions against them,” Yury Baluyevsky, head of the military council, said of the 10 interceptor missiles planned for Poland and radar for the Czech Republic, Interfax reported.

The military man’s language was among the most direct yet used against the shield, which Russian officials have been frequently and uniformly critical of since Washington’s negotiations with Prague and Warsaw came to light last fall.

Speaking in Moscow, Baluyevsky said that Russia was changing its military doctrine and that while the country was not yet altering plans for military hardware acquisition before 2010, that was subject to “radical changes” going on in the world.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates met with Putin and other officials last month in an emergency visit to offer Moscow partnership in the shield, a trip the US official called “excellent”.

As part of the expanding talks between Russia and the US over the future of their relations and the US 'missile shield', a big meeting is planning for September.

From the Brisbane Times :

Russia and the US will bring together their defence and foreign ministers in an unusual top-level bid to ease escalating bilateral tensions.

"We have agreed to a Russian suggestion that the secretaries of Defence and State meet with their Russian counterparts and do so in a so-called 2+2 format," US Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried said.

He said the first meeting was planned for September and could be expanded to include the White House and Kremlin national security advisers.

The Russians suggested the enhanced negotiations during a visit to Moscow last month by Defence Secretary Robert Gates focused on addressing Russian concerns about US plans to station 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

President Vladimir Putin, already angry about the expansion of the NATO alliance into former Soviet bloc countries, escalated the dispute last month by announcing Russia was suspending compliance with a key Cold War-era defence pact, the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.

This report from the Anotolian Times explains more on the changing NATO paradigms, and why Russia no longer sees the need to inform the West of its troop movements, even when they are across internationally recognised borders. Something that makes NATO diplomats very nervous :
Russia and the West are at odds over a growing number of issues, from Kosovo to the US missile shield, and the discord may undermine their cautiously built post-Cold War partnership, NATO diplomats say.

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a favourite to replace President Vladimir Putin next year, said Thursday that Moscow would no longer inform partners when it moves troops across its territory.

The announcement, the application of a freeze Putin made on the Soviet-era Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, was the first concrete move in what are tense and possibly changing times.

In the past, the West "accepted the rhetoric when Russian leaders denounced the United States or NATO, but it's not so easy any more," said a diplomat at the military alliance.

At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Norway late last month, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, reacting to the Russian treaty freeze, said it was vital to keep relations between Moscow and Washington calm.

"We must avoid an escalation," he said.

But a NATO official said "the tone between the (NATO) allies and Russia has now hardened."

....problems of political and military nature, which have simmered almost unnoticed for years, are now bubbling to the surface.

NATO's willingness to continue expanding eastward -- into former Soviet republics and satellite states -- or the installation of US military bases in Bulgaria and Romania last year -- are perceived by Russia as threats.

In February, Moscow threatened to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) so that it could resume production of tactical nuclear missiles.

"Russia seems to want to try to end the relationship that it built up with the United States in the 1990s and in the most theatrical way possible," experts at the Paris-based Strategic Research Foundation said last month.

In this atmosphere of confrontation, some at NATO fear that Kosovo, where the alliance has some 16,000 troops and whose ethnic Albanian majority is impatient for independence, could ultimately pay the price.

"A Russian veto on independence for the Serbian province followed by the US unilaterally recognising Kosovo (as independent) can no longer be ruled out," a diplomat warned.

Russia is not going to wait to see if the United States backs down on its plans to expand its 'missile shield' through Eastern Europe. They are quietly ramping up plans to make sure they have "counter measures" in place, should the United States complete its expansion of missile deployments close to Russian borders.

From Novosti :
Russia's Strategic Missile Forces will complete the deployment of silo-based Topol-M ICBMs by 2010, the SMF commander in chief said Tuesday.

"Alongside the deployment of Topol-M mobile complexes, we are planning to finalize the deployment of fixed-site Topol-M systems by 2010," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said.

He said Monday the Topol-M system will be equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, adding the new system will help penetrate missile defenses more effectively.

His statement comes against the background of growing tensions between Moscow and the West regarding plans by the United States to deploy elements of its global antiballistic missile defense system in Central Europe.

Washington has insisted that placing missile shield components in Poland and the Czech Republic is aimed against possible nuclear strikes from rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, whose controversial nuclear programs have caused international concerns. But Moscow, already unnerved by NATO expansion to former Warsaw Pact member states, has condemned the plans as a threat to national security and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

Gen. Solovtsov said the Strategic Missile Forces would factor in the new threats.

"If the U.S. proceeds with missile defense plans, despite serious opposition from people in Europe, the Strategic Missile Forces will manage to take adequate measures to counter threats to Russia," he said.

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