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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Russian Duplicity Knows No Bounds: The Missile System Red Herring

The EU Observer reports that Russia's alternative suggestion for a missile defense system outside Eastern Europe is so full of holes it makes Swiss Cheese look like Cheddar. It's clear from Russia's panicked reaction that this idea is a brilliant one, and must go forward exactly as planned. Now, at last, Russia can taste the results of provoking the entire world into a second cold war. It's quite amazing that even after being whipped in the first cold war, Russians not only want a second but continue to believe they are so much smarter than we are that they can dupe us with ridiculous red herrings of this kind.

The head of NATO has welcomed Moscow's apparent backing down from its Cold War rhetoric over the US plan to place an anti-missile shield in central Europe, but also cautiously questioned Moscow's offer to use a Russian-operated radar base in Azerbaijan instead. "I am not a technician but I do think that the geographic location of Azerbaijan is different from other choices that the United States has made", NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Friday (8 June), although he did not draw any final conclusions. "It is a bit close to the rogue states", he added, however, referring to Washington's argument that the envisaged system - consisting of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic - is meant to defend the US and Europe from Iran and North Korea.

Mr Scheffer's comments come a day after Russia opened a new front in the already overheated debate. Speaking at the G8 summit in the German city of Heiligendamm on Thursday (7 June), president Vladimir Putin announced he had secured agreement from Azerbaijan to use its Soviet-era radar station Gabala, which Kremlin leased for ten years in 2002. The station is said to be capable of detecting all launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles in Asia and parts of Africa. "This will make it unnecessary for us to place our offensive complexes along the borders with Europe", Mr Putin said on Thursday (7 June), referring to his previous icy warning that he would target Russian weapons towards European territory, if the US builds its missile shield in Europe. In response, US president George W. Bush described the proposal as "interesting" and something to be further studied by military experts.

Mr de Hoop Scheffer, for his part, stressed that any given solution should not create an A-league and a B-league within NATO. "For me indivisibility of security remains the key principle", he said. At the same time, the NATO chief slammed Kremlin for its sharp tone which he described as "unhelpful, unwelcome and anachronistic." "We need to get on with addressing together the 21st century security challenges, rather than resurrecting those from the past", he said, adding "it is always useful, when the two presidents – Bush and Putin – constructively talk to each other on this subject".

Who decides?

Meanwhile, Russia has made it clear that in its view the ball is in the US' court, with the Russian parliament's Konstantin Kosachev saying the White House's response will reveal its true colours. "If the Americans reject Russia's offer under a certain pretext, we will know for sure that their true goal is not only to stave off a potential threat from Iran or North Korea, but also to neutralize Russia's nuclear potential, which we could have assumed earlier," Mr Kosachev was cited by Russia's news agency RIA Novosti. But according to Tim Williams from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Russia's offer is "politically motivated . . . to cause problems in negotiations with Prague and Warsaw as well as in discussions within NATO". The Azerbaijan radar station involved in the proposal is not a "sensible" substitute for the Czech site, as it is so close to Iran that it can become a target and too far from the planned US interceptor base in Poland, Mr Williams argued, adding it was Russia who should explain its true intentions.

According to a NATO diplomat speaking to EUobserver, it is unlikely that Washington would sacrifice its Czech base, as the offer was already tabled at the working level of the NATO–Russia Council few weeks ago, but the two sides disagreed on one fundamental issue. While the Kremlin portrays the Azerbaijan site as an alternative to a site in central Europe, Washington considers it to be a contribution to the broader system. In addition, it is "a matter of trust", a diplomat said, rhetorically asking whether it is possible to put a key part of the missile defence system in the hands of Russia after the recent war of words. We would run a risk that the second part will complicate the access to crucial systems in times of a crisis, he said.

Condi Rice is not fooled. She's announced the US will go ahead with its own plan, ignoring Putin's silly artifices.


Anonymous said...

Of course Condi Rice was not fooled. However, Zbignew Brezezinski was taken to the cleaners, as usual.

God, I do remember how Zbig was supposed to be the hardass in the Carter national security cabinet. Turns out he was just another gullible moke.

Jeebus Christmas, to have been used like a wet dishrag by a dullard like Leonid Brezhnev? Brezhnev?

Thanks, I'll stick with Condi.

La Russophobe said...

Quite true indeed, he's become quite depressing. What can you expect, of course, from somebody who had so much contact with the toxin known as Jimmy.

Then again, he did have a good remark about Bush's invitation of Putin to Maine for a holiday: