OBAMA ON A LEASH: Russia reserves opt-out of arms treaty with USA…

Russia reserves opt-out of arms treaty with US

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press Writer Tue Apr 6, 9:40 am ET

MOSCOW – The new U.S.-Russian arms control treaty is a much better deal for Russia than its predecessor, but Moscow reserves the right to withdraw from it if a planned U.S. missile defense system grows into a threat, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Sergey Lavrov said Russia will issue a statement outlining the terms for such a withdrawal after President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the treaty Thursday in Prague. The new accord replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which expired in December.

Lavrov has said before that Russia could withdraw from the treaty. But his comments at a briefing Tuesday were his most specific yet on how and why a withdrawal could occur.

“Russia will have the right to opt out of the treaty if … the U.S. strategic missile defense begins to significantly affect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces,” he said.

Moscow welcomed Obama’s decision to scrap the previous administration’s plans for missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, but expressed concern about plans for a revamped shield, including a possible facility in Romania.

Lavrov said the site in Romania poses no immediate threat, but Russia could opt out of the new treaty if U.S. missile interceptors become capable of intercepting Russia’s strategic missiles.

“We have noted that the U.S. system won’t have a strategic capacity in its early stages,” he said. “We shall see what will happen next. When and if this system gets a strategic capacity, we shall see whether it creates risks for our strategic nuclear forces.”

The talks on a START successor had dragged on for nearly a year. They were stymied most recently by Russia’s demand for an explicit link between strategic arms cuts and development of the U.S. missile defense system. The U.S. Senate, however, has opposed any restrictions on the shield.

Moscow eventually agreed to have just a general statement noting a link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons. U.S. officials said the wording imposes no constraints on missile defense.

Lavrov said the new agreement will be the first arms-control treaty to make the parties fully equal. He said Russia shares Obama’s goal of a nuclear-free world, but said other nations must join the disarmament process, as well.

Obama’s Russian Disaster

Obama’s Russian Disaster

April 6th, 2010

By Kim Zigfeld, America Thinker

 Obama is being pushed around by Putin

The point of President Barack Obama’s much-ballyhooed “reset” of relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia was simple: Get Russia to stop supporting American enemies and use its influence to reduce the threat of nuclear terror being rained down on the West by the world’s rogue regimes. 

Obama was ready, willing, and able to betray Russian human rights activists by selling American values down the river in order do get this deal done, and he promptly gave them the cold shoulder. He was even willing to totally ignore Russia’s horrific problem of race murder and its invasion of tiny Georgia for imperial conquest.

Last week, Obama learned the wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s famous advice on Russia: “Trust, but verify.”

Despite Obama’s best efforts, including a unilateral withdrawal of the Bush anti-ballistic missile plan for Eastern Europe, Putin traveled to Venezuela, shook hands with a beaming Hugo Chávez, and announced (video here) that Russia would provide Chávez with both a nuclear energy capacity and a rocket program, the same as it has done for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Read More:

Hussein: U.S. Responsible For Russian Invasion Of Georgia By Setting Bad Example In Iraq

Putin’s Next Domino

Putin’s Next Domino

By Kathy Shaidle
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/22/2008

As soon as the U.S. and Poland signed their long awaited missile defense pact on August 20 (a deal recently reported in FrontPage), the Kremlin issued a sinister threat reminiscent of its old Cold War rhetoric.  

The deal places 10 missile defense interceptors on Polish territory, 115 miles from the Russian border. The missiles are designed to deter and, if necessary, defeat an Iranian attack, not to attack the former Soviet Union. But the Russians don’t believe that.

Hours after the signing, Russia’s Foreign Ministry described the new base as “one of the instruments in an extremely dangerous bundle of American military projects involving the one-sided development of a global missile shield system.” The Foreign Ministry insisted that the interceptors don’t have “any target other than Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles,” and issued a veiled threat: “In this case Russia will be forced to react, and not only through diplomatic” channels.

A few days earlier, Deputy Chief of Staff General Anatoly Nogovitsyn had warned, “Poland, by deploying [the system] is exposing itself to [nuclear] attack, one hundred percent.”

Earlier, the chief of Russia’s strategic missile command suggested aiming nuclear missiles at Poland, while Vladimir Putin himself has warned Poland’s neighbor that “Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory” if Ukraine joined NATO.

In Poland to sign the aggreement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed any suggestion that the new system represents a threat to Russia, and denounced General Nogovitsyn’s threat.

Comments like this “border on the bizarre, frankly,” said Rice, adding, “The Russians are losing their credibility.” “Missile defense, of course, is aimed at no one,” Rice futher explained. “It is in our defense that we do this.”

“It’s also the case that when you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988,” Rice continued. “It’s 2008 and the United States has a … firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland’s territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it’s probably not wise to throw these threats around.”

Perhaps, but Russia seems eager to turn back the clock, to a time when it was the United States’ most feared enemy, and not merely a nation among others.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Gabriel Schoenfeld reports that, like the United States since the end of the Cold War,

Russia has also reduced the size of its tactical nuclear arsenal, but starting from much higher levels and at a slower pace, leaving it with an estimated 5,000 such devices — 10 times the number of tactical weapons held by the U.S. Such a disparity would be one thing if we were contending with a stable, postcommunist regime moving in the direction of democracy and integration with the West. That was the Russia we anticipated when we began our nuclear build-down. But it is not the Russia we are facing today. (…)

As in the Cold War, nuclear weapons are central to the Russian geopolitical calculus. “The weak are not loved and not heard, they are insulted, and when we have [nuclear] parity they will talk to us in a different way.” These words are not from the dark days of communist yore. Rather, they were uttered last year by Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, and they perfectly capture the mentality we and Russia’s neighbors are up against.

In other words, the Kremlin has the hardware to back up their bluster. In recent months, the Russians have sent bombers on sorties along the Alaskan coast, and have threatened to station nuclear weapons in Cuba in response to the U.S. Poland pact.

Because Russia is the world’s second largest oil producer, its newest threats helped oil prices shoot up to $115 a barrel on Wednesday. The situation was compounded by Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia, which threatened to disrupt important regional pipelines. The price of gold, which has historically risen and fell in unison with international tensions, also rose yesterday due to “increasing geopolitical risk.” One veteran market observer analyzed the situation on Thursday and issued a distressing prediction:

Venezuela, Syria and Iran are aligning themselves with Russia. President Assad has said that Israeli assistance to Georgia shows that Russia and Syria should bolster military cooperation. Venezuela’s Chavez is also aligning himself with the Russians. Chavez said at the weekend that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev wanted to send a Russian naval fleet to visit Venezuela and that the Russians naval fleet would be welcome in Venezuela. Venezuela has been seeking closer relations with Moscow, in part to buy military hardware, including 24 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets recently delivered.

Geopolitical risk is higher now than at any time since the end of the Cold War and looks set to remain heightened in the coming months.

So far, the U.S. and Poland have issued calm yet firm statements in response to the Kremlin’s belligerence.  For example, on August 21, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski suggested that the Russians be invited to inspect the new bases on Polish territory.

However, whether or not the two nations and their allies can maintain this sanguine front in the face of Russia’s threats of nuclear “payback” remains to be seen.

A blogger since 2000, Kathy Shaidle runs FiveFeetOfFury.com. Her new e-book Acoustic Ladyland has been called a “must read” by Mark Steyn.

Georgia On Our Mind

Who do want to face off with Putin

Nashi and the Young Guard: two paths toward building support for Putin

Nashi and the Young Guard: two paths toward

building support for Putin

The groups engage in social programs and political events, but their approaches differ markedly.

Pavel Elizarov is just the kind of teen President Vladimir Putin’s government started worrying about a few years ago.

“I was never political until I was 18. But in 2004, I was in Ukraine on a tourist trip with my friends, and I saw happy people who were protesting,” says Mr. Elizarov, referring to the Orange Revolution, which brought hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest fraudulent elections. “They were all together, and I thought that they were capable of changing something in their country.”

Indeed, Ukraine’s new pro-Russia president was forced to hold fresh elections, which his West-leaning opponent won. Such revolutions buffeted other post-Soviet states – Georgia in 2003 and Kyrgyzstan in 2005.

Keen to avoid such upheavals, political forces close to Mr. Putin quickly backed two pro-Kremlin youth groups: Nashi and the Young Guard. Today, both claim roughly 100,000 members each, who engage in social programs as well as political events. But their approaches are decidedly different.

Nashi’s federal headquarters lurks beneath dim streetlights in northwest Moscow. Its windows are barred, its door unmarked. Inside, youths with nose piercings and tousled hair mingle in hallways plastered with vibrant magazine photos of Nashi activists. Here, they plan their “actions” – anything from picketing stores that sell tobacco to underage teens to massive pre-election demonstrations to encourage citizens to vote – for Putin’s party, of course.

“My grandfather was a state official, my father was a state official; I want to be useful for my state,” says Maria Drokova. An 18-year-old commissar, she speaks excellent English and credits Putin with stopping the war in Chechnya, raising salaries, and paying off Russia’s Soviet-era debt.

The Young Guard, meanwhile, is sheltered within the massive headquarters of Putin’s United Russia party. At a recent strategy meeting, Kirill Shchitov (see story, left), who manages public relations, sat in the middle of a large modern office at the head of a wooden table, surrounded by stylish colleagues who listened attentively. His party recently introduced a 20 percent youth quota and has a candidate running for municipal office in every one of Moscow’s 125 districts on March 2.

“We are meant to prepare our young people to become young, professional politicians,” says Ivan Demidov, a former TV producer recruited in 2005 to turn the Young Guard into a political movement.

Ms. Drokova describes Nashi’s ideology as “freedom and justice”; Mr. Demidov says United Russia is “for all things good against all things bad,” adding that the unifying theme is support for Putin’s policies. The Young Guard focuses on getting people in office, while Nashi emphasizes upward mobility, holding out government and business posts as carrots for promising members.

Not everyone is impressed with the groups. “Nashi is organized by people whose only religion is success and mimicry,” argues Andrei Zolotov, editor of the state-funded Russia Profile magazine. “There has to be a kind of moral foundation in a real youth movement.”

Others harp on the government’s support of Nashi, the most well-known of Russia’s numerous youth groups, which counts state-run energy giant Gazprom among its donors.

But Demidov rebuffs such criticism. “In the ’90s, the only public institutions were bandits – they taught [young people], selected them, gave them jobs. Of course, young people paid for all that with their lives…. It’s good that the state is at least doing something.”