Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… G8 Summit in Northern Ireland: US Politicians Disappointed on Syria, or, Policy Beyond the Bounds of Reason

01 Backstabber


The political hawks in Washington are frustrated. A carefully-prepared plan that they expected to roll out at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland unexpectedly misfired on them. The rightwingers around President Obama were set to adapt sanctions by the G8 to interfere militarily in the Syrian Civil War. Unexpectedly, the tenacity of Syrian government forces spoiled their plan to repeat the Libyan scenario, so, American policy makers in the Pentagon decided to compensate for their miscalculations by using military involvement in favour of the anti-government opposition. A G8 decision would’ve been political cover for such intervention. The authors of this plan had another goal… to isolate Moscow on the international arena by harping on Russia’s insistence that no outside forces should interfere in the Syrian Civil War. On the eve of the summit, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper breached traditional diplomatic decorum by saying that if Russia didn’t support the other members in this, it might find itself outside the G8.

Another G8 summit ended… the goals of the saboteurs ended in the political scrapyard. Notably, the final communiqué, phrased in the most diplomatic terms, doesn’t have a single word about foreign interference in the Syrian Civil War. President Putin’s principled stance and diplomatic skills thwarted the plans of the political mischief-makers. All the leaders from the eight nations that took part in the summit signed the final communiqué. The notorious “Red Line”, mentioned by President Obama to please rightwingers in Washington, wasn’t even raised at the summit.

The intellectually-honest part of the American political class is aware of the true state of affairs. US Representative Michael J Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, asked, “What do you want to achieve in Syria?” Meanwhile, influential US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sharply censured his more zealous colleagues, who wanted to drag the USA into another war. This shows us why the American delegation and its partners displayed some good-sense at the summit in Northern Ireland. Iraq and Afghanistan diminished the smugness and hubris of the creators of American foreign policy. It’s increasingly-clear that the revival of the arms race is a crushing burden on the American economy… it’s a bottomless pit that’s eaten up 17 trillion USD (552 trillion Roubles. 13 trillion Euros. 11.3 trillion UK Pounds). Moreover, dead soldiers are returning home in thousands of coffins, killed in locations thousands of miles away from the American heartland, for what cause, no one knows. These are bleak realities for Washington. Prospects of a new war, more trillions of dollars thrown down a rat-hole, and a new flood of zinc coffins are pointless, and many in the corridors of power in Washington have started to realise this.

00 Valentin Sergeyevich Zorin. 26.04.1325 June 2013

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service




Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Russia and the USA: A Precarious Balance


The joint statement released by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama after their meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, is a masterpiece of diplomatic correctness. Perfectly neutral and entirely constructive in tone, it sounds as if leaders trying not to say nor do anything that could set off an avalanche made it. In short, they followed the first rule of medicine, “Do no harm”. Putin hasn’t met with a US president for nearly three years, since early 2009, when Obama first came to Moscow and Putin was prime minister. It was a remarkable meeting. In response to Obama’s polite greeting, Putin delivered a very emotional speech lasting 45 minutes, addressing the Kremlin’s complaints against Washington. Putin last spoke with Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, although not about sports. He demanded that Bush stop Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who had launched a war against South Ossetia that day. Bush didn’t cooperate on this.

The last time Putin as president held full-scale talks with his American counterpart was in Sochi in April 2008, when Putin and Bush adopted a framework declaration on USRussian relations. It was a balanced and positive document, which included the agenda for the future reset policy. The collapse of bilateral relations later that summer was largely due to the fact that practical policy, in particular US policy, veered dramatically away from the partners’ constructive plans. In other words, Moscow decided that Washington had deceived it. Unfortunately, for bilateral relations, two of the strategic priorities that the Bush Administration saw as part of its foreign policy legacy had a direct bearing on Russian interests… drawing Georgia and the Ukraine into the NATO orbit and deploying missile defence systems in Eastern Europe. The August 2008 war in South Ossetia was a logical consequence of the attempts to translate these priorities to reality. Russian-US relations under Putin and Bush culminated in a fatal loss of Russian trust in the USA, which has continued to affect bilateral relations to this day. Putin’s convinced that no gentlemanly agreements or heart-to-heart talks are possible with Americans, only tough and lengthy bargaining for legally-binding agreements.

On the other hand, the reset policy launched in 2009 became possible only when Moscow decided that Obama, unlike his predecessor, would keep his word. Obama promised to review Bush’s missile defence plans for Poland and Czechia, and he has done so. Moscow’s shown that it’s always willing to reciprocate. Then-President Dmitri Medvedev stated that Russia would look into approving sanctions against Iran the very next day after Obama buried Bush’s missile defence initiative in Eastern Europe. However, the US-Russian relationship is now strained and the fruits of the reset policy have spoilt. Putin refused to attend the G8 summit at Camp David after Obama said he would not attend APEC Leaders’ Week in Vladivostok. Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov never tire of exchanging words over Syria. US senators accused Rosoboronexport of aiding the Iranian missile programme.

The US Congress will likely approve legislation to normalise trade relations with Russia by repealing the obsolete Jackson-Vanik Amendment. However, the new legislation is to be accompanied by the passage of the Magnitsky Act allowing sanctions against individuals who were allegedly involved in the death of a lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in 2009 and similar crimes. Given the US criticism of Russia over the new Assembly Law and the police searches of the homes of several opposition leaders, the missile defence dead-end and the now customary diplomatic scandals involving Ambassador Michael McFaul, the general picture of US-Russian relations looks gloomy. However, in fact, it’s better than it seems, as the meeting in Mexico has shown. Tough bargaining with elements of propaganda warfare aimed at forcing the opponent to compromise is normal practice in relations between great powers. As they say, “Nothing personal”. Nevertheless, differences over Syria and Iran are important, as the situation in these countries is approaching a showdown. Although US-Russian relations are far from friendly, they aren’t unusually hostile either.

The important thing is what the US administration does to minimise damage from its political sorties. The State Department and the White House have publicly supported the Republican advocates of the Magnitsky Act, whilst at the same time trying to limit its negative effect. The State Department adopted its own, reportedly short, Magnitsky list last year to prevent Congress from denying entry visas to Russians indiscriminately. The Pentagon, where Russian complaints over Syria and Iran are directed, hasn’t rushed to punish Russia and has officially dissociated itself from Clinton’s accusations. It hasn’t the time for political games because it needs Russia’s sustained cooperation in Afghanistan (equipment, cargo, transit, routes, and other technical matters).

When you consider the complex multilayered relations between these two countries that were just recently mortal enemies, you should expect to see some clouds. What matters is whether they are set for conflict, or whether tensions are the result of objective structural factors. The USA and Russia are currently not set for confrontation, at least not at the highest level. There’s no friendship or sympathy between Putin and Obama, and there’s unlikely to be any in the future. However, it’s more important that they see each other as trustworthy partners. Their latest joint statement indicates that this is possible.

21 June 2012

Fyodor Lukianov



Thursday, 17 May 2012

Medvedev Sez that Military Interventionism May Lead To Outright War


On Thursday, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev observed at an international legal forum in St Petersburg that military intervention in the sovereign affairs of other states could lead to outright war, which could go nuclear, saying, “The introduction of all sorts of collective sanctions bypassing international institutions doesn’t improve the situation in the world, whilst reckless military operations in foreign states usually end up with radicals coming to power. At some point, such actions, which undermine state sovereignty, may well end in a full-blown regional war and even… I’m not trying to spook anyone… the use of nuclear weapons”.

Medvedev went on to say, ahead of a G8 summit, that the right of nations to choose their own path of development is a universal value, referring to the situation in Syria and the Middle East as a whole. Earlier on Thursday, a Kremlin aide said the G8 summit meeting outside Washington on 18-19 May would begin with talks on Syria and the Iranian nuclear problem. Medvedev, who’s attending the meeting instead of President Vladimir Putin, will hold bilateral talks with US President Barack Obama, Arkady Dvorkovich said.

17 May 2012



Editor’s Note:

Willard Romney is a jingoistic sabre-rattler. He was a bully in prep school; he’s a bully now (only he’s smoother about it). So are King Rush and the rest of the demented Republican punditocracy. Every time the USA attacks another country, the risk of a general war is there. There IS a way to minimise this threat… vote for President Obama in November… don’t be fooled by the loud noise on the internet. The ‘net is a megaphone, making a loud small pack of yahoos sound like a horde. We outnumber them… and we outsmart them. VOTE… and we’ll keep the lying greedy bastards out. It’s your DUTY…


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