Archive for the ‘Russian’ Category

Global Economy Weakness Leading To Social Unrest

March 8, 2009

“If not handled, today’s financial crisis will become tomorrow’s human crisis. Social unrest and political instability will grow, exacerbating all other problems.”

That according to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In China, Russia, France, Iceland and Britain, some leaders already fear that the worsening global economy will result in calls for new governments with new leaders and fresh ideas.

The Independent reported this week:

“China’s growth has dropped from 13 per cent in 2007 to 6.8 per cent in the most recent quarter. The rapid slowdown in the global economy, and in the US in particular, has hit China’s export-led economy, which has been at the heart of wider Asian growth in recent years. While extremely high compared with growth levels in mature economies, the slower pace is well below the 8 per cent the Government needs to create jobs for the millions of rural workers heading for China’s cities.The slowdown has left 20 million rural labourers unemployed, with 7 million college graduates also seeking work. The authorities are desperate to stop sporadic clashes between police and protesting workers turning into more general unrest against the Communist Party. ”

In Berlin, German, economically displaced people are setting paked luxury cars on fire.

In Russia there has been social unrest but leaders believe that welfare programs recently put into place will ease tensions.

“I believe that the current economic crisis will not damage social stability so severely,” Medvedev said in an interview with the Spanish media this week.

The “Tea Party” tax protests in the U.S. are rather small and mild mannered but indicate that many in America are also getting edgy with the poor economy and the solutions their governments are recommending.


Independent on China:


Global Economy Sparks Protests; Governments Fear Greater “Social Unrest”

In Paris, protestors voice concerns at failing economy, overtaxed social services


Wealth Battlefield

By Michelle Malkin
The Washington Times

Enough. In a word, that is the message of disgusted taxpayers fed up with the confiscatory policies of both parties in Washington. George Bush pre-socialized the economy with billion-dollar bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Barack Obama is pouring billions more down those sinkholes. It isn’t just the camel’s back that’s broken. His neck and four legs have all snapped, too.

Enough. Last Friday, thousands of Americans turned out to protest reckless government spending in the pork-laden stimulus package, the earmark-clogged budget bill, the massive mortgage-entitlement program and taxpayer-funded corporate rescues.

Contrary to false left-wing blog smears that the hastily planned impromptu events were “Astro-turfed,” the crowds were packed with first-time grass-roots activists. They were people with families and day jobs whose usual definition of “community organizing” involves neighborhood yard sales or their kids’ soccer matches. They were members of the silent majority who decided to be silent no more.

Read the rest:

Russian Relations With U.S., Europe Improve: But Putin, Medvedev Understand Strength, Power More than Diplomacy

March 7, 2009

International relations is the arena of understanding different peoples and cultures and one might expect that Barack Obama, with his wide ranging international background, along with America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with her vast international experience, might understand international nuance.

Yet on Hillary’s first outing with one of America’s most difficult adversaries, she delivered a gift bearing an incorrect translation: an insult because it represents a lack of proper care in even properly translating one word.

What do we pay that big crowd at the State Department for, anyway?  Too expensive and porky, if they can’t get one word properly translated.  But I’m picky.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with a big red button marked “peregruzka” she thought this meant “reset.”

The symbolic resetting of Russian and U.S. relations did not go perfectly.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said.” Both diplomats laughed. “It should be “perezagruzka” (the Russian word for reset,) Lavrov said. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.'”

We disagree with CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty who said  the U.S. and Russian relationship had to be reset “after relations ‘crashed’ when Russia invaded Georgia last August.”

In fact, the Bush Administration and most of Europe suspended relations with Russia in hopes of punishing or at least getting the attention of the oil rich giant after Russia’s incursion into Georgia.  But then a winter gas dispute with the Ukraine moved Russia to cut off gas to Europe — teaching the West a memorable lesson: oil and gas are power.

Relations with the U.S., Europe and NATO have suddenly gotten rosier for Moscow and the gas to Europe is flowing again.  That’s power, not diplomacy talking.

Clinton said the two sides will re-negotiate a follow-up to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and nonproliferation. On other issues like Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran, Clinton said, “We will work through them.”

On issues where there is disagreement, Clinton said, “We are keeping those on the list because, we think through closer cooperation and building trust in each other, we can even tackle some of those differences.”

The tricky “hot button” between the U.S. and Russia right now is Iran.  Russia has been assisting Iran with nuclear development and air defense weapons.  The Obama Administration wants Russia to persuade Iran from moving closer to a nuclear weapon program.  Israel plays in this discussion.  A right wing government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu is being formed in Israel and Netanyahu has made noise about attacking Iran in the past.

So, to keep world peace, the Obama Administration may be willing to give up its missile defense effort in the Czech Republic and Poland in order to gain Russian help with Iran.


Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
Israel Ponders War on Iran; Obama, Russia Haggle

Russia Testing Obama: Just as Biden Predicted
Russia building anti-satellite weapons

 Russia: Medvedev Pushing Putin Out?

Russia Verifies “American, Western Weakness”

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

Mr. Obama and Russia
NYT Editorial: Russia only understands strength….

 Chutzpah: Admire Russia’s Arrogance

Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

Putin Medvedev
Above: Russia’s “power couple.” Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian media teases Clinton:

America’s Top Diplomat Tongue-Tied?

Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

March 6, 2009

For everyone working on their rsume to improve their hopes of getting a new job, take heart in the story of Hillary Clinton.

Sixteen years ago, Mrs. Clinton was made in charge of reforming health care by her husband, President Bill.

Her closed door meetings riled the opposition and her health care efforts went down in flames.

Now Hillary is reborn as America’s Secretary of State and diplomat in chief and Barack Obama has learned from Bill’s health care fiasco.  Barack is using the all inclusive hug everyone and keep the door open appraoch to health care reform.

Just to make sure health care makes it though the Congress, Barack is using the game plan so successful with the stimulus: Nanacy pelosi and her gamd will write the provisions of the new health care reform measure.

Meanwhile, the only person not under the health care tent, it seems, is Hillary Clinton.

She is in Russia dealing with what many consider a far tougher problem than health care: Russia.

Just aafter President Obama apparently promised Russia it would unilaterally disarm its missile defense efforts in Europe, in exchange for some mysterious Russian assistance to stop Iran’s nuclear program; Hillary arrived in Russia.

Hillary opened her meeting with a gift for her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The gift was supposed to reporest a “resetting” of U.S. and Russian ties.  The gift was a big red button with the word peregruzka printed on top. 

Hillary and her crack State Department team thought peregruzka meant “reset.”

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.” 

Go get ’em Hillary!  And kudos to the U.S. Department of State!


By David Cloud

GENEVA—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.

She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top. 

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked. 

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said. 

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.” 

Clinton and Lavrov laughed. 

“We won’t let you do that to us,” she said. Trying to recover, Clinton said the new administration was serious about improving relations with Moscow. “We mean it, and we’re looking forward to it.” 

Lavrov said he would put the button on his desk and he and Clinton pushed the button together, before sitting down for their meeting.

A State Department official said the misspelling on the button was being corrected, in time for the post-meeting news conference.

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)
In The White House, Protocol Not Just For Computers

A lot of people get paid a lot of money to prevent the kind of gaffe just made by Hillary Clinton.  Usually they work in an office called “protocol.”

Protocol and dacorum are the opposite of awkward and foolish rolled into disrespectful and inappropriate.
There have been awkward moments before at the White House and in presidential administrations and sometimes they cause pain and embarrassment to visiting dignitaries.  Sometimes they detract from years of great diplomacy.

Just ask Hu Jintao, President of China, after he was introduced at the White House during a Bush hosted ceremony as the President of the “Republic of China,” which most of us know as Taiwan.  President Bush added to the lack of protocol and decorum that day by manhandling President Hu toward the exit to the stage, a “touching” just not allowed  — except maybe for children.

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is helped ... 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is helped down the stairs by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after a joint press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, March 6, 2009. Clinton said Friday she hopes her first discussion with her Russian counterpart will begin a new era in U.S.-Russian relations without raising doubts about American support for European allies.(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

While Obama Worries About Stimulus, Russia Closes Key Base To U.S. Objectives

February 6, 2009

A standoff over an obscure air base in a Central Asian country few Americans could find on a map is an opening salvo in a new kind of Cold War with Russia.

By ANNE GEARAN and ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writers

The prize is not military mastery or the global supremacy of ideas, but the defensive protection of resources and security. Each of the 20th century nuclear superpowers wants say-so over the decisions the other has reserved the right to make, and with a new U.S. administration signaling possible compromise with Russia on a missile-basing plan detested by Russia, Moscow is using U.S. dependence on the base for the Afghan war to drive a hard bargain.

“I think that the principal motivation is to reassert Russian influence and get visible U.S. presence out of former Soviet republics,” said retired Adm. William J. Fallon, who oversaw the Afghan and Iraq war as head of U.S. Central Command until last year.

Over the last week, Russian officials have issued new warnings against the U.S. medium-range missile system and promised billions to a former client state, Kyrgyzstan, to persuade its strongman leader to evict the U.S. military from its main air hub in the region.

Russia has long been irritated by the U.S. military presence in what it considers its natural areas of influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a strategically located region straddling Europe and close to volatile nations like Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Read the rest:

Obama seeks Russia deal to slash nuclear weapons

February 4, 2009

President Obama will convene the most ambitious arms reduction talks with Russia for a generation, aiming to slash each country’s stockpile of nuclear weapons by 80 per cent.

The radical treaty would cut the number of nuclear warheads to 1,000 each, The Times has learnt. Key to the initiative is a review of the Bush Administration’s plan for a US missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, a project fiercely opposed by Moscow.


Mr Obama is to establish a non-proliferation office at the White House to oversee the talks, expected to be headed by Gary Samore, a non-proliferation negotiator in the Clinton Administration. The talks will be driven by Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

No final decision on the defence shield has been taken by Mr Obama. Yet merely delaying the placement of US missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic — which if deployed would cost the US $4 billion annually — removes what has been a major impediment to Russian co-operation on arms reduction.

Read the rest:

Russia ‘stops missile deployment in Europe because of Obama’

January 28, 2009

Russia has held out an olive branch to President Barack Obama by suspending plans to deploy missiles in Europe.

Defence Ministry officials said that the move had been made because the new United States leadership was reconsidering plans to establish a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. Deployment of Iskander short-range missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads, in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad had been halted in response.

The news emerged before Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s appearance at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last night. Mr Putin said on Monday that he was “cautiously optimistic” about improved relations with the US because Mr Obama had shown a willingness to reconsider the missile shield.

The administration of former President George W. Bush ignored Russian objections to its plan to install 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. It signed agreements with the two Eastern European Governments last year to deploy the system.

Read the rest:

A Russian Iskander missile mounted on a truck in the Siberian ... 
A Russian Iskander missile mounted on a truck in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. Russia has shelved plans to install missiles on central Europe’s doorstep after detecting a cooling by the Obama administration towards a controversial US shield project, a military official has said.(AFP/Vedomosti/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

Russia Wants Something From Obama: Carrot and Stick Diplomacy

January 28, 2009

Russia wants something from Barack Obama.  And Russia has been using a kind of carrot and stick approach toward getting what it wants.  First Russia announced the stick: new Russian misile deployments to Kaliningrad.  Now Russia has announced the carrot: they’ve halted the the plan….


Russia’s military has announced it will halt its plans to deploy short-range missiles in its Baltic enclave Kaliningrad, Interfax news agency says.


A Russian military official said a change in US attitude had prompted the latest decision, Interfax reports.

The US envoy to Nato, Kurt Volker, said that if true, the suspension would be a “very positive step”, the Reuters news agency reported.

Russia had said the US missile shield plan in Europe was a direct threat.

In November last year, Mr Medvedev announced that short-range Iskander missiles would be deployed in Kaliningrad, bordering Poland, to neutralise the perceived US threat.

The US has insisted that its plan to base radars and interceptor missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic is designed solely to guard against attack by “rogue states”, such as Iran.

Kremlin hopes

While the Russian defence ministry has not confirmed the latest Interfax report, the BBC’s James Rodgers in Moscow says the agency is often used by the Kremlin to float proposals.

Interfax quoted an unnamed military official as saying that “the implementation of these plans has been halted in connection with the fact that the new US administration is not rushing through plans to deploy” parts of its missile defence shield in eastern Europe.
If the official’s statement is borne out it may signal a wider hope in the Kremlin that the US under President Barack Obama will roll back the plans for the missile defence shield, our correspondent says.

Before he took office on 20 January, Mr Obama’s transition team said he had not made a commitment to deploying the missile defence system in eastern Europe and would wait to see if the technology proved workable.

If Russia does shelve its Iskander deployment, it would be a substantial conciliatory measure to the new US administration, our correspondent adds.

Read the rest:

Obama, Medvedev agree on need to improve ties

January 27, 2009

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed on the need to stop the “drift” in U.S.-Russia relations in a telephone call on Monday, the White House said on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Tuesday he expected the two leaders to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in London in April.

“President Obama and President Medvedev spoke about the importance of stopping the drift in U.S.-Russia relations and building a serious agenda for their bilateral relationship,” the White House statement said.


The statement underscored the White House’s recognition that relations between the two countries had deteriorated in recent years under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, and former Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A statement from the Kremlin press service on the same phone call said the two sides had agreed to do “everything in their power to restore Russia-American relations to their full potential.”

Russian-U.S. relations have been strained over U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe, a move Russia strongly opposes, and over Russia’s brief war with the North Caucus republic of Georgia, a close U.S. ally.

“The presidents agreed that, as they were both new leaders from a post-Cold War generation they have a unique opportunity to establish a fundamentally different kind of relationship between the two countries,” the White House said.

Read the rest:

Ukraine proclaims victory after Russia gas war

January 21, 2009

Ukraine’s prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Wednesday proclaimed her country the winner in the latest natural gas dispute with Russia, even though higher gas prices are going to badly hurt the Ukrainian economy.

Tymoshenko told a Cabinet session that Ukraine has won “great conditions” under a gas deal that ended Russia’s two-week natural gas cutoff to European countries.

Associated Press

An employee at the Orlovka gas-compressor station near the Ukrainian-Romanian ... 
An employee at the Orlovka gas-compressor station near the Ukrainian-Romanian border, January 14. Russian gas deliveries reached four more central European countries along with Turkey on Wednesday following settlement of a Russia-Ukraine price and payment dispute, officials said.(AFP/File/Sergei Supinsky)

Monday’s deal doubled the price Ukraine has to pay for Russian gas in the first quarter of 2009. Gas prices are expected to fall later this year, but Ukraine is still expected to pay significantly more this year for Russian gas than it did in 2008.

As part of the deal, the fee Russia pays Ukraine for delivering gas via its pipelines remains unchanged in 2009.

The agreement was hailed by the European Union, but ran into criticism at home.

Ukraine was struggling to pay for Russian gas even at last year’s lower price as it faced a currency collapse, falling exports and a shaken banking sector.

Tymoshenko’s political rival, President Viktor Yushchenko, has assailed the deal, saying the price was too high and will cripple the country’s key metals and chemical industries. Yushchenko’s office said, however, that Ukraine is not seeking to reconsider the deal.

Read the rest:

China Aircraft Carriers Ordered, Construction Starts This Year

January 19, 2009

In Shanghai, China, shipyard employees report that the Chinese Navy has ordered two 60,000 ton aircraft carriers, and preparations are under way to begin construction this year, with completion scheduled for 2015. Fifty Russian Su-33 jet fighters would be imported to serve on the new carriers. Chinese naval aviators would use the former Russian carrier Varyag as a training ship, to learn how to operate the Su-33s off carriers. Recently, Chinese officials visited Ukraine and inspected the naval aviation training facilities that were built there before the Soviet Union dissolved (and Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union). Ukraine wants to use those facilities to establish an international center for training carrier aviators.

From Strategy Page

An Su-33 on board Admiral Kuznetsov.

Chinese admirals have said they need carriers to assure Chinese access to raw materials, especially oil, that comes by sea. China hopes to get key components for the carrier from Russian manufacturers. If that is possible, completion of the carriers might be speeded up by a year or two.

Three months ago, China announced that its first class of carrier aviators had begun training at the Dalian Naval Academy. The naval officers will undergo a four year course of instruction to turn them into fighter pilots capable of operating off a carrier. China already has an airfield, in the shape of a carrier deck, built at an inland facility. The Russians have warned China that it may take them a decade or more to develop the knowledge and skills needed to efficiently run an aircraft carrier. The Chinese are game, and are slogging forward.

A year ago, the Russian aircraft carrier Varyag was renamed the Shi Lang (after the Chinese general who took possession of Taiwan in 1681, the first time China ever paid any attention to the island) and given the pennant number 83. The Chinese have been refurbishing the Varyag, one of the Kuznetsov class that Russia began building in the 1980s, for several years now. It is expected to be ready for sea trials any day now.

Originally the Kuznetsovs were conceived of as 90,000 ton, nuclear powered ships, similar to American carriers (complete with steam catapults). Instead, because of the cost, and the complexity of modern (American style) carriers, the Russians were forced to scale back their goals, and ended up with the 65,000 ton (full load ) ships that lacked steam catapults, and used a ski jump type flight deck instead. Nuclear power was dropped, but the Kuznetsov class was still a formidable design. The thousand foot long carrier normally carries a dozen navalized Su-27s (called Su-33s), 14 Ka-27PL anti-submarine helicopters, two electronic warfare helicopters and two search and rescue helicopters. But the ship can carry up to 36 Su-33s and sixteen helicopters. The ship carries 2,500 tons of aviation fuel, allowing it to generate 500-1,000 aircraft and helicopter sorties. Crew size is 2,500 (or 3,000 with a full aircraft load.) Only two ships of this class exist; the original Kuznetsov, which is in Russian service, and the Varyag.

The Chinese have been in touch with Russian naval construction firms, and may have purchased plans and technology for equipment installed in the Kuznetsov. Some Chinese leaders have quipped about having a carrier by 2010 (this would have to be a refurbished Varyag). Even that would be an ambitious schedule, and the Chinese have been burned before when they tried to build new military technology in a hurry.

Su-27 low pass.jpg