I don’t have time to write extensively on Putin’s historic trip to Iran. Plus there are many others who are more versed in Russian-Iranian relations and the geopolitical significance of Putin’s trip. So with that in mind and a dissertation chapter deadline hanging over my head, I offer Juan Cole’s take on it. His post is significant because it provides the entire text of Putin’s and Admadinejad’s joint statement. I also recommend Farideh Farhi’s post on the Informed Comment Global Affairs Blog for what the Russian visit means for Tehran.
It’s clear that if there were any diplomatic victories achieved in the meeting, they were all Iran’s. With Putin backing the Islamic nation’s assertions that its nuclear program is “peaceful” basically confirmed that if Washington is looking for partners to put the hard squeeze on Iran, Russia isn’t one of them.
For Russia, the trip is a reaffirmation that Russia will seek its own independent foreign policy. And ironically Putin came out somewhat like a peacemaker with his stress in dialog with Iran rather than sanctions. He stressed this last night during his annual question and answer session with the public. “Direct dialog with the leaders of states around which certain problems accumulate is always more productive and is the shortest path to success, rather than a policy of threats, sanctions, and all the more so resolution by using force,” he said.
That wasn’t the only blow to US prospects waging war against Iran. The attendees at the Caspian Sea Summit, which included Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkmenistan’s President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, made a declaration that said “under any circumstances they would not allow other countries to use their territory for aggression and military attack against one of the parties.”
Welcome to the Great Game of the 21st Century.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
Lenta.ru reports that Ivan Bolshakov, the Moscow head of Yabloko Youth, was subjected to a criminal search and detention. He has now been released from custody. Bolshakov was detained in the Kursk train station in Moscow as he and Ilya Yashin waited to board a train to Nizhny Novgorod for a pre-election trip. According to Lenta:
They put Bolshakov in handcuffs, and after this they took him to the Ziuzinskii Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office for questioning. As his comrade in arms [Yashin] emphasized that according to existing law a candidate to the State Duma can only be detained with approval of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. The officers who conducted the criminal search did not have this.
Bolshakov’s detention, according to Yashin was because he was accused of assaulting a police officer during the Butovo protests in June 2007. No charges have been filed against Bolshakov and Yabloko considers the accusations “a complete fabrication.”
Bolshakov’s brief detention comes right before Yabloko Youth submitted a complaint to the Central Elections Commission charging that the website Zaputina.ru is really a front for Putin and United Russia and not an independent project. According to Russian electoral law, all election advertising must be paid with funds from political parties’ coffers. United Russia would be violating the law if Zaputina.ru was registered as mass media.
Za Putina is run by Konstantin Rykov, who stands as United Russia’s candidate for Nizhni Novgorod, and features among other things airbrushed Putinist Realist photos of Putin, the faces of many Putin supporters, a game called “Putin Chess”, video, and other propaganda promoting all things Putin. The site is slick indeed. And since its establishment at the beginning of this month it has clocked over 70,000 pro-Putinites, the majority of whom come from Moscow.
“The site Zaputina.ru is obviously for agitational purposes, and its creators are obliged to pay for its activities from the electoral funds of United Russia. Moreover, it’s clear that this internet portal is not a private initiative, but an expensive pre-electoral project. There are video clips on the site that shape a positive image of the main candidate. On the sites material Putin is presented as a hero,” Yashin told Gazeta.ru.
Looks like the run up to the elections are shaping up as expected.Post Views: 195
By Sean — 11 years ago
On Monday Robert Gates met with President Putin and other officials in Moscow to discuss US plans to deploy the US ABM complex in Europe, and most importantly to offer cooperation on the issue: a potential linking of Russian and US systems and the ability for Russia to initiate inspection checks to the newly-built facilities. These plans were publicly rejected by
Russia‘s newly-appointed Minister of Defense Anatoliy Serdyukov and Mr. Ivanov ( ‘s first-vice-premier). Russia Russiacontinues to remain skeptical that Iranpossesses any type of threat to Russiaand to Europe. Similarly, the US, in the face of Secretary of State Rice has called Russia’s concerns over plans to deploy the ABM systems “ludicrous”, the New York Times reported.
In his annual address to parliament, President Putin made it clear that
Russiawill respond immediately to US plans by withdrawing from the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe, which was based on an earlier treaty of 1990 during the dissolution of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. ‘s claims are that it is the only nation to have fully ratified the treaty and refuses to continue to fulfill its obligations unless other members (specifically NATO members) ratify it. NATO has declared its surprise over such actions as it believes Russia was never fulfilling its promises under the treaty. Russia
Because of numerous confusions in the press, it is important to go back and determine the realities of the treaties. An adapted copy of both treaties (1990) and (1999) can be found on the Arms Control Association Websites. The New York Times reports that:
The agreement in question, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, known by the initials C.F.E., was signed in 1990 by the N.A.T.O. nations and the nations of the former Warsaw Pact, including Russia. It required the reduction and relocation of much of the main battle equipment then located along the former east-west dividing line, including tanks, artillery pieces, armored vehicles and attack aircraft. It also established an inspection regime.
Under the treaty, more than 50,000 pieces of military equipment were converted or destroyed by 1995. With its initial ambitions largely achieved, it was renegotiated in 1999, adding a requirement that Russia withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova, two former Soviet republics where tensions and intrigue with Moscow run high.
The fact of “force withdrawal” remains very controversial. NATO members in 2002 had accepted that Russia fulfilled all of its requirements under the treaty, specifically regarding the fact of withdrawal of TPE (treaty prohibited weapons) from Georgia and Moldova and other territories.
Russiaclaims that its obligations essentially stop here, and a withdrawal of forces is a gesture of goodwill; NATO members claim that made promises to withdraw its troops also. The treaty was originally signed to ensure the collective security of Russia Europeand security from a “blitzkrieg-type” attack when one state would concentrate a large number of weapons on another’s border. Thus, severe caps on TPEs were implemented (specifically tanks, jet fighters, light-armored vehicles, cannons, etc.) Consequently, troop presence would not be an issue to collective security, neither would the US ABM bases (clearly a missile deterrent system).
In addition to the above, Russia’s attempt to withdraw from the treaty is set to completely confuse all negotiations, as the treaty seems to be read differently by both sides. With Russia having ratified it but slow on implementation and NATO members, having not ratified it accusing Russia of slow progress. Even before Russia’s announcement, the Guardian reported that:
The Bush administration has this week been struggling to convince sceptical European partners that the missile shield is a good idea.
In an interview yesterday, Germany’s deputy foreign minister, Gernot Erler, revealed that at least six allies, including Germany, raised doubts about the project at a Nato meeting last week — amid fears of another cold war on European soil.
The CFE treaty is not the first treaty
has threatened to withdraw from. Russian officials initially opened up their protests by suggesting likely withdrawal from the 1987 treaty limiting medium-range missiles. It is a paradox that both treaties are virtually outdated, with Russia and US having mostly scrapped their medium-range missiles, while six other countries still possess them. With regard to the CFE treaty, the militarization and force-withdrawals have mostly been achieved already, and Russia remains the beneficiary under the treaty due to its massive territory. While other countries had to scrap their weapons, Russia Russiashifted its TPEs beyond the limit-free Urals in Siberia. Yet the treaties are highly symbolic and are the essential foundations of collective security in the post Cold War period.
The Financial Times reports that, the US was the first country that began breaking such treaties, through its 2001 unilateral withdrawal from the ABM treaty:
However, Thursday’s decision is strategically important because it signals Russia’s growing readiness to tear up the post-1990 diplomatic order. Moscow believes today’s strong Russia can revisit the deals done in the 1990s by a weak Russia. The Kremlin also argues the US has repeatedly acted unilaterally, including over Iraq and over recent plans for Czech and Polish missile defence bases. If the US can set aside bilateral or multilateral pacts, says Moscow, so can Russia.
These developments take the world into perilous waters. While there is no open ideological conflict between east and west, there are deep differences over democracy and the rule of law. It will be dangerous if these disputes prevent Russia, the European Union and the US co-operating on matters of mutual interest, including energy, the war against terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation.
The US is entitled to look after its own security. But it must accept security is often easier to build in partnership with others than alone. America, not Russia, was the first to pull out of a cold war arms pact when in 2001 it abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Washington’s recent effort to explain its missile defence plans to sceptical European states, including Russia, is long overdue.
Russiais behaving irresponsibly in a diplomatic sense and is severely threatening collective security in Europe. But the is doing the same, yet indirectly. Analysts have rightly pointed out that withdrawal from both treaties will make US ‘s position worse: it has barely the right capital to finance development and deployment of medium-range ballistic missiles, and to engage in a large-scale rearmament of its European part. These capabilities are dwarfed by 10 times by the Russia military budget. But clearly US has no choice. Its policy of countering NATO’s dominance must start now, at a time when relations are moderately cool. The fact of no ideological difference between the East and the Wets means no serious threat of confrontation will occur. Yet, it is worrisome if Russia Russiaand the USscrap their commitments to security in Europe, especially given the experience of the 20th century. We are living in a different world, but relations among countries sour easily, and alliances and counter-alliances form just as fast.
The end goal of its diplomatic game is not to scrap its commitment to European security, but to make the rest of Europe aware that such issues as the ABM deployment if pushed unilaterally by the
without NATO approval could bring instability. Yet, the threats that Russia has made show that it is engaged in almost full-scale bluff, the US knows and understands this. Germany understands this even better. This poker game is very long, and the stakes may rise with every passing day. Unless serious negotiations start soon, Russia will turn its bluff into action. If a treaty withdrawal will occur, there is a marginal prospect of US rearmament in Europe. This would be quite an unfortunate prospect. US
Nikolay, Student, Boston U., Business Major, Russian. Interests: International Relations (1930-1945); Russian 20th century History, Capital Markets, Private Equity. He also runs the blog Russia’s True Tales of Terra.Post Views: 196