Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… Two Reasons why the USA Abandoned ABM Defence Bases in Eastern Europe



Newly-appointed US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel stated that Washington scrapped its plans to deploy ABM bases in Poland and Romania. Some analysts interpreted this move as a goodwill gesture towards Russia, given Moscow’s opposition to the deployment of American ABM bases in proximity to its borders, as it sees such deployments as a threat to its national security. Most likely, the Washington leadership didn’t have such ideas. The decision to abandon commitments that went back to the times of President George H. W. Bush during the 1989 Malta Summit is due to other causes. Whatever the reasons for such a gesture, it definitely wasn’t prompted by concerns about Russia. Two major reasons prompted the recent decision to abandon the planned American ABM bases in Poland and Romania.

Firstly, the missile defence system on which the USA has worked on for decades, since Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defence Initiative, is ineffective. According to Professor Richard Garwin, one of the scientists behind the American hydrogen bomb, speaking to the US Senate, “The American ABM defence system in its current form is simply useless”. After reviewing the situation, a Congressional panel set up to look into the credibility of Garwin’s conclusion found that the widely-hyped potential of the US ABM defence shield was mostly theoretical, on paper. Its report stated, “Bluntly put, it has no basis in reality”. Several years ago, a group of Nobel Prize-winning academics wrote a report addressed to the US President, warning, “It’s impossible to create an effective ABM defence shield, given the current level of scientific and technical knowledge, and it’d be devastating to American national interests, undermining its present economic and political arrangements”.

The state of the US economy is the second reason behind Washington’s decision to call off ABM defence plans for Eastern Europe. A disproportionately-huge US federal debt, some 17 trillion USD (529 trillion Roubles. 13.3 trillion Euros. 11.2 trillion UK Pounds), forced American leaders to cut back on their enormous appetites. The billions of dollars that’d be necessary to deploy ABM bases are too much of a burden for the US federal budget. These two reasons, rather than a notional missile threat coming from the DPRK, or concerns about American-Russian relations, made Washington give up its long-planned and much-cherished ABM defence plans. Moscow has no illusions regarding the true causes of the “peaceful sentiments” seen on the banks of the Potomac. However, if these sentiments become reality, then, Russia would be happy about it.

zorin_v27 March 2013

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service




Russian Media: DPRK “State of War” May Be Mistranslation

00 Iskander missile 02


On Saturday, Russian media outlets reported that recent media reports that the DPRK declared a “state of war” with the ROK might have their origin in a mistranslation. International media reported the DPRK statement, published on the official state news agency KCNA, as reading that the DPRK “is entering a state of war” with the ROK, and that all questions between the neighbouring countries would be handled in accordance with wartime protocol. On Saturday, AFP cited the same DPRK statement as saying, “The long-standing situation of the Korean peninsula being neither at peace nor at war is finally over”. However, later on Saturday, Russian media reports stated that a faulty translation might have been to blame for the apparent uptick in bellicose rhetoric.

Apparently, the original DPRK statement emphasised that the country would act “in accordance with wartime laws” if attacked, and, from that time, North-South relations would enter a state of war”. The DPRK and the ROK aren’t technically “at peace”, since there was no peace treaty signed following the Korean War in 1953. The Demilitarised Zone between the countries is the most heavily-armed border in the world. On 11 March, the ROK and the USA began their annual large-scale military exercises, codenamed Key Resolve. The drills involved 10,000 ROK and 3,500 American troops. Prior to the exercises, Pyongyang threatened the USA with a pre-emptive nuclear strike amidst warnings that it planned to terminate the Korean War Armistice Agreement. It warned of retaliatory countermeasures if the USA and the ROK went ahead with the drills.

On Thursday, the USA dispatched two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on an “extended deterrence” practise run over the ROK. American officials said that the exercise should serve “to demonstrate very clearly the resolve of the USA to deter aggression on the Korean peninsula”. On Friday, the DPRK responded by placing its strategic rocket forces on standby to strike American and ROK targets. Russian media reported that ROK news agency Yonhap cited unnamed military sources as saying that “no special deployments of DPRK forces were observed, despite this threatening rhetoric”. There’s been no further clarification from the DPRK.

30 March 2013



30 March 2013. Wo ist Moriak?

01 woman on phone


Here’s a little titbit I got from one of the regulars:

All I’ve “heard” about Moriak lately is, “He won’t be a diocesan bishop“. I’ve got no idea what that means for his future… a stint in a monastery? A bishop assigned to a parish? Retirement on a Carpatho-Russian island on some frozen lake in Europe? 🙂 I just don’t know.


No one knows much else, save for the fact that I’ve heard more on the movers being busy in Chicago. I wonder what’ll happen to his son, now that he’ll no longer have pop to lean upon (betcha he gets le sabot from the parish that pop put him in)?



Boris Berezovky: Game Over

00 Boris Berezovsky 3. Russia. 24.03.13


I arrived in Russia in 1997, when Boris Berezovsky’s influence was at its height. The year before, he had managed to get Boris Yeltsin re-elected, and we needn’t think too hard about how or why he achieved that. In those days, Berezovsky was often in Chechnya, and I couldn’t keep up with how much stuff he owned. Then Putin became president, and shortly afterwards the “Godfather of the Kremlin” was out. Sometime later I read a vehemently anti-Putin editorial in a major British newspaper, before such things were commonplace. “Who wrote this? I wondered. Then, I saw the by-line:

Boris Berezovsky

I was stunned. Hadn’t the editor done a quick web search before paying this “Russian businessman” to write his screed? Evidently, not, although I now understand that serial failure to grasp that not every opponent of Putin is a brave Solzhenitsyn is characteristic of the media in the UK and USA. Last year, for instance, I watched a documentary on Khodorkovsky, and the filmmaker was baffled when Russians expressed contempt for the fallen billionaire. As for Berezovsky, for years I wrote him off as an embittered crook until I read an interesting piece by Eduard Limonov, written in his trademark broken English. The author-turned-opposition leader was recalling a very expensive bottle of cognac the exiled billionaire had sent him upon his release from prison on weapons smuggling charges in 2003:

I like Berezovsky more and more. Exiled, he looks noble. Berezovsky is a type of anxious, never-satisfied life-eater, of warrior, the person who lives by the energy of conflict. Abroad, in Great Britain, he’s forced to exist without conflict, in order to preserve himself from a Russian prison. He wants badly to go out of that golden cage of London, again go to exciting life of conflicts in Russia. He isn’t interested in money. Money is only fuel to his conflicts.

(Full Limonov text)

A life-eater, fuelled by the energy of conflict! That also describes Limonov, who used to ramble on about legalising polygamy and teaching kids to use flame-throwers (before he became a semi-respectable Putin opponent in the eyes of David Frost et al). In Berezovsky, he recognised some of his own characteristics. Now, I saw the oligarch differently. He was a game-player, a man who delighted in his cleverness, in danger, and who exulted in the provocations he staged before the global media.

I recall footage I saw of Berezovsky talking to a group of Russophile English aristocrats about Putin. With what pleasure… and ease… he seduced these political naifs, who were blind to the conspiratorial nature of Russian power. Even better was when he befriended George Bush’s hapless wee brother Neil, who in the mid-2000s was trying to sell a video projector he called “The Cow” as an educational tool to developing countries who didn’t know any better. Berezovsky got involved and made a few introductions in the former USSR, even accompanying the mini-Bush on a visit to Latvia. Putin was outraged; Berezovsky was delighted; Bush never sold his rubbish toy.

Berezovsky’s influence in exile reached its peak with the murder of his employee Aleksandr Litvinenko. Suddenly, the renegade oligarch was at the centre of the world’s attention, wreaking havoc upon Putin’s reputation. However, this is also when journalists started looking seriously into the career of the life-eater, and his reputation never recovered either, for the “heroic dissident” was clearly a man enmeshed in plots, scandal, crime, and death. Of course, Berezovsky was an exceedingly clever man. Long before he was a car dealer, he was a mathematician and a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Nevertheless, this was his problem. His attitude was that of someone who’d always considered himself the smartest man in the room. Now, when the other man in the room was Yeltsin, that may have been true… but then again, the table at which Yeltsin sat also had more brains than the Russian president did.

Yeltsin, it is clear, was too easy to manipulate… because, after that, Berezovsky serially underestimated his foes. Having backed the mid-level ex-KGB officer Putin as successor, he was astounded when Putin drove him into exile. He also underestimated his protégé Roman Abramovich, and this is where his intelligence really started to undermine him. You don’t need to be a lawyer to know that Berezovsky’s claim that Abramovich bullied him into giving up his stake in Sibneft sounded feeble. Indeed, the case was so tenuous that Berezovsky must have used a lot of intellectual energy to persuade himself of his own arguments.

The results were disastrous, and with the evaporation of his money and influence, Berezovsky could see that the game was finally up. Then again, maybe not… when Putin’s spokesman claimed that Berezovsky sent his foe a handwritten letter pleading for the right to return to Russia, I was sceptical. All exiles yearn for home, but did Berezovsky really think that he could sweet-talk Putin? Then I remembered his arrogance, his hubris, and wondered if he hadn’t persuaded himself he could use his cleverness to pull off one last great act of gamesmanship…

Then, it would seem, he hanged himself.

27 March 2013

Daniel Kalder



Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.