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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Russia Begs for Mercy . . . Badly, of Course

The Times of London reports that Russia is already begging for mercy after embarking upon its crazed policy of provoking Cold War II with the United states:

The Kremlin has launched a diplomatic offensive to repair frayed relations between Russia and the West and rescue preparations for a key summit that President Putin will host in St Petersburg this summer.

Amid fears of a return to Cold War suspicion, the Russian presidential chief of staff made an unprecedented visit to Downing Street this week to defuse tensions that could undermine the annual G8 meeting of the world’s most powerful leaders.

Sergei Sobyanin, who held talks with Jonathan Powell, his British counterpart, said that he was determined to refresh an atmosphere that has been poisoned by recent sharp exchanges between Moscow and the West.

“The problems that have been highlighted recently in the media and political circles have been wildly exaggerated,” Mr Sobyanin told The Times, in his first interview with the foreign press.

“Our biggest problem is the rhetoric. We do have differences with our Western partners, but nothing of critical importance and certainly nothing that cannot be resolved through direct dialogue.”

Apparently, Mr. Sobyanin is test-marketing his line of B.S. on the British before trying to sell it to the Americans. But is "gee guys, don't be that way, all we did is give aid and comfort to your two main enemies in the world, Iraq and Iran, while enouraging terrorism in Palestine while you boycott it" really the best the Russians can do?

A Jamestown Foundation analyst adds:

The very fact that Putin's speech all but ignored foreign policy speaks volumes regarding the degree of the Kremlin's displeasure with the West's treatment of Russia. Of course, he disdainfully mentioned "Comrade wolf" (i.e., the United States) and its high-handed international behavior - a kind of "asymmetrical" response to Washington's annoying lecturing on democracy, most recently by US Vice President Dick Cheney. Symptomatically, however, instead of giving Russia's detractors a tough riposte, Putin chose - obviously seeking to appeal to Russians' nationalist feelings - to pass the Western critics by in contemptuous silence. This tactic, some Russian commentators were quick to note, allowed Putin to make Cheney look "somewhat comical, like a man yelling something to a train that has long left the station". By all appearances, the Kremlin thought this would be the best way to demonstrate Moscow's geopolitical self-assurance. Indeed, the argument goes, why should the Russian president, who is presiding over a booming economy - Russia earned around $113 billion from oil exports last year and a further $30 billion from natural gas exports - stoop to react to the complexes of the Western policymakers who cannot adjust themselves to the newly assertive Russia?
And a compelling argument it is, too! After all, it's not like $113 billion is only $779 per person (gross not even net!) in a country where the average montly wage is $300. It's not like Russia's population is going to fall by one third or more over the next 50 years. It's not like Russia's policy is antagonizing the world's most powerful country, which already easily defeated Russia in Cold War I when Russia was part of a much larger coalition of nations. Apparently, though, Mr. Sobyanin is not convinced that it will work. Is his plan much of an improvement, though?

La Russophobe thinks not. Remember, George Bush is Putin's best friend and he's a lame duck. Just wait until an electoral realignment takes place in November. Then Russia is going to feel a mighty sting that will make its present discomfort seem pleaurable by comparison.

Another tactic Russia is pursuing is kinship with China. This is fine, except for the minor point that China despises Russia and lusts after Siberia, which it will surely take within the next century. Basically, it's the Stalin-Hitler pact redux just so Russia doesn't have to treat America with the respect its power commands. In other words, this ploy is fooling and/or intimidating nobody in the U.S. these days.

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