Voices from Russia

Friday, 15 August 2008

Yushchenko Proposes Drafting Black Sea Fleet Deal with Russia

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko sent an urgent proposal to Russia on Friday to draft a bilateral agreement on the Russian Black Sea fleet deployed in the Ukraine. Yushchenko said he had presented Russia with “an urgent proposition to launch talks and draw up an agreement to regulate bilateral relations during military operations” such as those in Georgia over the past week. Ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet patrolled the waters off the Georgian coast during Russia’s “peace enforcement” operation that began after Georgia launched an offensive in South Ossetia on 8 August.

Yushchenko signed a decree Wednesday stating that Russia was required to notify the Ukrainian authorities of all movements by naval vessels and aircraft from its Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet. He signed the document after returning from Tbilisi, where he took part in a mass rally in support of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili amid fighting with Russia. Both leaders have pursued pro-Western policies, seeking to join NATO and the European Union and reduce Russian influence. The Ukraine even threatened last weekend to refuse to allow the Russian vessels to return to the Sevastopol naval base. The Defence Ministry said Sunday that the Russian Navy had sunk a Georgian vessel transporting missile launchers. The Black Sea Fleet uses the Sevastopol base under agreements signed in 1997. Yushchenko announced earlier this year that Ukraine would not extend the lease beyond 2017.

15 August 2008



Editor’s Note:

Let’s have some words of wisdom from the Rt Honourable Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon!” Yushchenko is not in the position of demanding anything from anyone. He is accusing his prime minister of treasonous dealings and accusing an old friend of poisoning him. The man is bananas, unfortunately, he is a head of state. He keeps prodding the bear, he shall find out what shall happen. He is in a much weaker position than Saakashvili, as the majority of the Ukrainian population are Russophones and his only solid base of support is in the very far west of the country, and that is probably shaky due to his personal instability.

He shall either be taken down by Ms Timoshenko in a palace coup or shake a rubber sabre at Russia, as his puppet-master Bush did. He shall find out the folly of the latter.



Russia Finds Ukrainian Licence Plates at Georgian Army Base

Filed under: diplomacy,military,politics,Russian,the Ukraine,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

Dmitri Rogozin (1963- )

Moscow intends to send an official request to Kiev to identify Ukrainian diplomatic licence plates discovered by Russian intelligence officers at a Georgian military base, Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s NATO envoy, said on Friday. “We do not know what they were intended for, we are merely stating a fact”, Mr Rogozin said. The suspicious discovery, which could signal that the Ukraine was involved in the recent conflict in South Ossetia, was made in Senaki, in western Georgia.

Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chef of Russia’s General Staff, reported earlier in the day that Russian reconnaissance officers in Abkhazia spotted a large number of cars with licence plates of Ukrainian diplomats. Commenting on the purpose of the plates, he said cars with such plates could move freely across Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. “Diplomatic cars are not subject to checks on roads. They can carry any cargoes, including arms”, General Nogovitsyn said.

Editor’s Note:

Ouch! Yushchenko’s fingers are slammed by the lid of the cookie jar. He is demanding a say over the Black Sea Fleet’s movements? After this, I have a better chance of winning the Mega Millions lotto than he has of getting his “demand”.

Saakashvili’s Rescue Operation

“Who’s been sleeping in my bed?”

It took the United States a week to understand the damage Mikhail Saakashvili’s “Ossetian blitzkrieg” caused him, and its fosterling, the “Rose Democracy”. Now, Washington has launched an operation to rescue Mr Saakasvili in real earnest. At the same time, a diplomatic battle is unfolding around the Caucasian knot. Regrettably, this struggle will be harder for Russia to win than any armed conflict. On 14 August, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Paris to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy, and immediately left for Tbilisi to talk with Mr Saakashvili. At the same time, President George W. Bush sanctioned humanitarian relief to Georgia. The first C-17 cargo planes have already delivered medicines and food there. Several U.S. warships are moving to Georgian shores from the Persian Gulf to prevent Russia from blocking relief aid. The Pentagon’s humanitarian relief effort has little to do with Georgia’s real requirements. But, this is the first action in support of Mr Saakashvili. He did not receive such support in the first days after the attack, and even began to complain that Washington’s initial criticisms of Moscow’s role in the conflict were too mild. This was not what he expected from those who had pushed him to attack South Ossetia.

Now, Mr Bush has accused Russia of “not behaving like the kind of international partner that it has said it wants to be”. The fact that Washington has only lashed out at Moscow a week after the event is telling. Usually, the Americans provide thorough propaganda support for their political or military actions in any part of the globe (the invasions of Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq are all good examples), and do this pre-emptively. The flow of inspired leaks and revelations from anonymous high-rankers usually mounts for weeks before the decisive blow. But, it did not happen with Georgia. In fact, the US press carried post factum “confidential” reports that during her visit to Tbilisi over a month ago Ms Rice warned Mr Saakashvili against military action. But, he either did not get it, or lost his temper, and decided to act at his own risk. Sometimes, puppet rulers get out of hand. Yet, it is hard to believe that a stateswoman as formidable as “Teflon Condi” could not make it clear to Mr Saakashvili what the White House wants or does not want him to do. Moreover, he is not an Angela Merkel or Silvio Berlusconi, who can easily afford not to listen to the US secretary of state.

The White House’s recent moves suggest it has overcome the initial shock and has embarked on what it calls “damage control” by using the only remaining option, aggressive diplomacy. These moves also point to its blunder in anticipating Moscow’s reaction to Mr Saakashvili’s action. Washington clearly did not expect such a prompt and forceful response from Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, still less so on the first day of the Olympics. The Olympics are also a key to understanding what happened. After the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics (after the introduction of Soviet troops into Afghanistan), US leaders became confident that all Soviet leaders were obsessed with the Olympic Games (which was true), and that it was easier for them to arrest several hundred dissidents than be subjected to a denigrating boycott. It is no accident that one of the possible responses being floated by Western diplomats is a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, a measure designed to cut “the aggressive Russia” down to size. That would certainly be unpleasant, but it is not very likely. Too much may change in the next six years. The Bush administration will be gone, for one thing. Incidentally, despite all his outspoken criticism of Russia’s “invasion of Georgia”, Republican presidential nominee John McCain said on 14 August that as president he “would not send American military forces into a conflict in Georgia”.

THIS is what George Bush is doing.

Like Washington, London never misses a chance to step on the Kremlin’s toes. Together, they want to give a tough response to Moscow, and choose those sanctions that would “hit hardest at its prestige”, as The Times put it. Apart from the Olympic boycott, Washington has suggested a whole package of measures against Russia, including blocking its entry to the WTO, denying it admission to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), excluding it from the G8, stopping the talks on a new strategic partnership agreement with the EU, and curtailing its Partnership for Peace with NATO. NATO is to adopt a common position next week, when its foreign ministers will gather for an urgent meeting in Brussels at Bush’s request. The meeting will take place on Monday or Tuesday (18 August or 19 August). The worst-case scenario for Russia is that Washington may persuade the Europeans to welcome Tbilisi and Kiev to the Membership Action Plan without delay, a proposal France, Italy, and Germany rejected at NATO’s April summit in Bucharest. The Kremlin will be hoping they will choose to disagree again.

As for the new partnership agreement with the EU, Moscow has no reason to rush it. Russia is quite content with its current status, and Europe needs the agreement more than we do. Western business is much more interested in Russia’s WTO entry, because it wants to establish itself firmly here. The OECD is more of a club of economic projects of its 30 members, and we are not rushing there, either. NATO-Russia partnership has long become a fiction. Ousting Russia from the G8 looks like a tough measure, but it is not really. The G8 long ago lost its original essence, and has turned into little more than an expensive talking shop. If it is to regain its relevance its format must be changed. It is strange that Canada is a member of this club, but such huge economies as China, India, or Brazil are not. Nor does it include a single African nation. It has been clear since the end of the past century that this is inadequate. If Russia leaves this club, it will simply cease to exist.

15 August 2008

Andrei Fedyashin



Editor’s Note:

THIS is Russia’s response.

There is much more here than meets the eye at first. There is a very real possibility that there shall be no agreement between the NATO foreign ministers next week. There would be the three Anglophone members (US, UK, Canada) together with the new Eastern European members (in particular Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) arguing for a hard-line whilst the “old NATO” states of France, Germany, and Italy are adamantly opposed to such. This shall set up dissonances that may easily shake the “alliance” apart. What was originally a defensive bloc set up to defend Western Europe against Soviet attack is now an offensive alignment designed by the US to contain Russia, if not attack it. This scares the older members.

Remember, if there is fighting in Russia, Western Europe is within range of the VVS and cruise missiles, there is no need for ICBMs in this case. That is, the USA would reap all the benefit; Western Europe would pay all the blood. Most countries are not enthusiastic over such prospects. There is little left in NATO to keep the old members in. What shall the US do if the old members leave? Shall it maintain a rump NATO? It would make little sense.

In short, Mr Fedyashin is being kind. There is no silver lining in this cloud for the US. Firstly, a puppet state is chewed up, and the US does not have the financial wherewithal to rebuild it. Not if it is facing a 490 billion dollar (12.058 trillion roubles. 333.453 billion euros. 262.444 billion UK pounds) deficit next year! Secondly, any conceivable economic sanctions would be vetoed by the EU. Why? Need you ask? Gazprom. Thirdly, any negotiations by Ms Rice are going nowhere in Moscow. She is seen as the architect of this failed little warlet, and she is not trusted by either Russia or China. Please, do not bore me with nonsense concerning “democracy”. If the number two and three powers cannot deal with a foreign minister, it torpedoes normal working relations.

Lastly, George Bush himself has lost all credibility. He talked big, and delivered nothing. His protégé, Mr Saakashvili is probably not long for this world politically, for losing is not forgiven in the political realm. He shall become a Galtieri or Somoza. Mr Saakashvili embarked on an American-planned venture where the USA would reap all the benefits and he took all the risks. Remember, he has said more than once that he was on the phone with “world leaders” the day before the attack. Despite his track record, it is probably true. He is now finding out that the “memory hole” is real and that he is being sucked into it.

Sic semper tyrannis!


ROCOR Youth Group Completed Pilgrimage to Russia

Filed under: Christian,Orthodox life,religious,ROCOR,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

A group of young people from all the dioceses of the ROCOR completed a three-week pilgrimage to holy places in Russia and took part in the International Congress “Cooperation between Orthodox Youth” at the Kursk Root Pustyn. On their first day in Russia, 18 July, they took a trip to the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, where the pilgrims prayed at a patriarchal service on the feastday of the finding of the relics of St Sergei of Radonezh. The next day, they visited the cathedrals of the Moscow Kremlin and met with other young Orthodox activists from the city. The ROCOR pilgrims also visited the Kursk Root Pustyn.

Besides the ROCOR group, young people from Russia, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine also took part in the Congress, a total of more than 60 participants. The congress delegates also took trips to see historic churches of Kursk and holy places connected with the life of the young Prokhor, who later became St Seraphim of Sarov. In the evenings, the young pilgrims met for folk song concerts or discussions. “Right away I felt that these are my native people, and this is my country. Everything we were taught at home and at Russian School came to life. I did not want to leave, and I will definitely go back again”, said of the young pilgrims, Eugene Krassovsky from California, who was quoted on the ROCOR official website.

15 August 2008



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