Michael Kofman is Research Scientist at CNA Corporation and Fellow at the Kennan Institute where he specializes in security and defense in Eurasia. He comments widely on Russian military affairs and foreign policy. He also blogs on the Russian military at his site Russian Military Analysis. You can also find a list of his many recent publications there as well.
You can listen to my previous interview with Michael Kofman on hybrid warfare here.
The Elements, “Both Feet On The Ground,” Elementary, 1981.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
Josh Kucera was kind enough to email me about my post yesterday about the aid bill to Georgia. According to Josh, the bill that passed was not HR 6911 or the STAND for Georgia Act. What passed was HR 2638, the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009. HR 2638 is an interesting piece of legislation indeed. A quick glance at the bill’s Table of Contents you will find appropriations for the FDA, FBI, the Department of Labor, US embassies, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs. But tucked away under the heading Bilateral Economic Assistance, there is this paragraph:
For an additional amount for ‘Economic Support Fund’, $465,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, of which up to $5,000,000 may be made available for administrative expenses of the United States Agency for International Development, in addition to amounts otherwise made available for such purposes: Provided, That of the funds appropriated under this heading, $365,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Georgia and the region for humanitarian and economic relief, reconstruction, energy-related programs and democracy activities, and may be transferred to, and merged with, funds appropriated under the headings ‘Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union’ and ‘International Disaster Assistance’, of which up to $8,000,000 may be transferred to, and merged with, funds made available for ‘International Broadcasting Operations’ for broadcasting activities to Georgia, Russia and the region.
up to$8,000,000 may be transferred
As Kucera originally reported, the bill passed the House (268 to 150), the Senate (89 to 4), and signed by President Bush. Now the majority of congressmen can pat themselves on the back for paying off Saakashvili, er protecting democracy, for his little war.
So I was wrong on another point. The US Congress is perverse enough to give the Georgians $365 million as the American economy tanks. Nice. Real nice.
My sincerest apologies to Josh for the misunderstanding. I thank him for clearing it up.Post Views: 451
By Sean — 11 years ago
While Putin’s proposal to place ABM radar systems in Azerbaijan took the Bushites by surprise, the suggestion appears to delight the Azeris. It sounds as if the Azeris are ready to engage in bilateral talks under one condition: “its own national interests must be taken into account by both Moscow and Washington.”
Good luck. Amid the potential Russian and the US wrangling over the who, whats, and hows of installing radar systems at Gabala, one can imagine Azerbaijan having a tough time squeezing their concerns into the debate. Yes, while Azeeri foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov may think that “It is not possible to undertake any actions without us” and that “both Russia and the US accept our position, and we are ready for negotiations.” The devil will be in the to be negotiated details if, and I say if, the plan goes forward.
Apparently Putin’s raising of the idea during talks with Bush wasn’t the first time the Azeri option has come up. Mammadyarov and Sergei Lavrov discussed the idea during the the latter’s May 21-22 visit to Azerbaijan. And a Moscow diplomat is said to have mentioned it to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in late April. While Azeri talks with Washington are still “rudimentary” there is no doubt that the issue will come up during the Azeri-Washington talks in July. Perhaps Putin’s announcement was a way to drum up some publicity. Or it could suggest that there is a tacit agreement to explore the idea already in the works. Anyone’s guess is as good as mine.
It also appears that some in Azerbaijan see the deal as a potential geopolitical coming coming out party for the small Caucasian nation. Aydin Mirzazade, Deputy chairman of the Azeri Parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, thinks that it could “strengthen the geopolitical position of Azerbaijan, since the station belongs to our country. Azerbaijan will take part in the negotiations and will be able to defend its national interests. I think this idea is a potential political dividend for Azerbaijan.”
It could. Or it could put Azerbaijan in a real awkward position when the two great powers intensify their love spats. Even so, depsite any problems the plan might cause Azerbaijan, in the words of Rasim Musabekov, a pro-opposition political analyst, the Caucausian nation has “has nothing to lose here. The joint use of Gabala radar station by the Americans and Russians would mean diversification of this base and would increase the strategic weight of Azerbaijan.”
At the least they will be able to wag their middle finger at longtime foe Armenia while standing beside Putin and Bush. After all, the deal might get Azerbijian the ear of Moscow and the US over Karabakh. “Azerbaijan will have the right to demand taking its interests into account. It may touch the issue of the Karabakh conflict and also security guarantees in regard to third countries,” Musabekov added. There is no doubt that the “third country” in question is Armenia.Post Views: 547
By Sean — 12 months ago