Friday, August 29, 2008

Freedom isn't Free: archive

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Information Warfare: "The Russian Cyber Militia"

Georgia was not just invaded by Russian troops last August, it was also hammered on the Internet, with the same Cyber War techniques used against Estonia last year. An investigation by a large team of Internet experts concluded that, as with the attacks on Estonia, the Russian government was not directly involved in the Georgia attacks. The Cyber War attacks on Georgia were coordinated from a non-government web site. If there was any Russian government involvement, it was indirect. For example, the attacks on Georgian web sites began with a very complete list of targets. Not that any of the Russian civilian volunteers couldn't have put such a list together, but this one appeared "general staff" thorough. (...) >>>

21st Oct 2008
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... Palin's specter, laugh again you, you ... pea brained twits ...

Debka: "Russian live missile fire air exercise near Alaska"

Not since 1984, just before the fall of the Soviet Union, has Russia ventured to launch dozens of nuclear bombers for an exercise in which Tu-95 Bear bombers will fire live cruise missiles. Exercise Stability 2008 will take place Oct.-6-12 over sub-Arctic Russia uncomfortably close to the US state of Alaska, and Belarus.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the exercise is part of a month-long war game described by Russian air force spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik as “practicing the strategic deployment of the armed forces including the nuclear triad.” As part of the exercise, our sources reported exclusively on Oct. 1, that Russian ships armed with nuclear missiles will dock at Syrian ports Oct. 8, on the eve of Yom Kippur, before continuing to the Caribbean for joint maneuvers with Venezuela. More than 60,000 troops and 1.500 tanks and APCs, as well as land-based and submarine-launched nuclear missiles, were tested in the first phase of the war games. (...) >>>

6th Oct 2008
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... Associated Press has recently published two articles on Russian spy activity ("concrete interest") in the Czech Republic ... Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told CT24 news television "it is true" ... Russia is also "agitating" to turn Czech public opinion against the NATO radar basis ... thanks for reminding us - today's it's more subtle and called PR, or lobbying ...

30th Sep 2008
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...mark the open threats ... and the inversion ... "Medvedev Says West Pushes Russia Behind Iron Curtain" ...

Politics.HU: "Russia's ambassador to Hungary warns on Ukraine, Georgia NATO bids"

Relations between NATO and Russia are bad enough in the wake of the Caucasian conflict but they could get worse if NATO invites Georgia and Ukraine to join its Membership Action Plan (MAP), Russia's ambassador to Hungary told MTI on Thursday.

Igor Savolsky said that dialogue between NATO and Russia was practically non-existent but if Georgia and Ukraine are invited into MAP in December "the atmosphere will get very cold indeed." Once in MAP they are destined to join NATO, he said, and if NATO forces are right next door to Russia that qualifies as a threat and a hazard.

Moscow plans to take diplomatic measures to keep NATO from inviting Georgia and Ukraine, Savolsky said.

When queried, the Russian ambassador said he did not know whether Russia would attend the October NATO summit in Budapest (...) >>>
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... Rice on Russia ...

Bloomberg: "Russia Test-Fires Ballistic Missile 6,700 Kilometers to Pacific "

Russia successfully fired its newest intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine located in the White Sea to a target on the Pacific coast 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) away, the military said. (...) Initial data indicates the missile performed according to plan (...) Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said Russia can produce missiles capable of piercing any defenses. Yesterday's test of the Bulava, which has an estimated maximum range of 8,000 kilometers, comes as the country upgrades its rocket forces to counter a planned U.S. anti-missile shield in eastern Europe. (...)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned in a speech yesterday that Russia had taken a "dark turn'' characterized by authoritarianism at home and aggression abroad and called for U.S. and European unity to meet the challenge. The "paranoid, aggressive impulse, which has manifested itself before in Russian history, to view the emergence of free and independent democratic neighbors'' not as a source of security but as a source of threat, has re-emerged, she said. Rice rejected suggestions that the West provoked Russia by pledging in April that Georgia and Ukraine would ultimately be admitted to NATO. Russia's behavior "cannot be blamed on NATO enlargement,'' she said. NATO has transformed itself from a Cold War alliance in a divided Europe to "a means for nurturing the growth of a Europe whole, free and at peace, and for confronting dangers, like terrorism, that also threaten Russia,'' she said.(...) >>>

19th Sep 2008
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FT: "Georgia conflict forces Nato rethink"

Nato defence ministers will on Thursday hold their first in-depth discussion on how the 26-member alliance should respond militarily to Russia’s new challenge to the west following its recent conflict with Georgia. (...) But he said recent events in Georgia underscored the need for defence ministers to discuss frankly why many Nato members were not doing more to boost defence spending. “If we have an informal benchmark of 2 per cent GDP [gross domestic product] for defence spending and only six of the 26 Nato allies meet that informal benchmark, then there is something wrong with the alliance,” he said. (...) On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, said his country’s defence spending would grow by 27 per cent in 2009. >>>

18th Sep 2008
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Times Online: "Ukraine government collapses over Georgia war"

Ukraine was plunged into fresh political turmoil yesterday when its pro-Western Government collapsed, amid recriminations over Russia’s invasion of Georgia. President Yushchenko accused Russia of trying to destabilise the country after the collapse of the coalition Government between his party, Our Ukraine, and the faction headed by the Prime Minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko. (...) He insisted that Russia would not succeed in doing to Ukraine what it had done in Georgia. “Will they repeat the scenario? For sure, no,” he said. (...) >>>
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CNN: "NATO chief expresses solidarity for Georgia"

NATO's chief assured Georgia on Tuesday that the alliance stands by the beleaguered nation after its war with Russia and supports its drive to join Western institutions. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met with Georgia's parliament speaker in the second day of a visit that comes with thousands of Russian troops on its soil more than a month after a war that has caused mounting confrontation between Moscow and the West.

De Hoop Scheffer said he and the NATO ambassadors of all 26 allies were in the ex-Soviet republic "to show solidarity with its people, to show that we stand by them as they work to reshape their country and take their proper place in the European and Euro-Atlantic community." But they have made no promises about when Georgia might join NATO. (...) On Monday, de Hoop Scheffer and Georgia's prime minister signed documents creating new NATO-Georgia Commission conceived in the wake of the war to emphasize alliance support for Georgia and oversee further relations. (...)

Under a supplemental agreement Sarkozy reached last week, Russia has pledged to withdraw its forces from Georgian territory outside South Ossetia and anther separatist region, Abkhazia, within 10 days of the deployment of EU monitors expected to be in place by Oct. 1. But Moscow has said it will maintain nearly 8,000 troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia for the foreseeable future. The U.S. and European Union say that would flagrantly violate the commitment to withdraw to pre-conflict positions. (...) >>>

Updated: 16th Sep 2008
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... time for a recap ... we have: two expelled criminal Yankee ambassadors (in Bolivia and in solidarity, in Venezuela), Russia's sole aircraft carrier in Syria, in Venezuela 1,000 Russians, 2 long-range bombers (Tu-160 or Blackjacks), 4 Russian vessels and so many Venezuelan frigates, patrol boats, submarines and aircraft - on the other hand in the Black Sea at least 1 Russian flagship, numerous air lifts of aid into Tbilisi, the Dallas and McFaul in Batumi (if they haven't left: see Naval Intelligence), umpteen NATO ships for an naval exercise, which - under the Montreux Convention - have to leave 21 days after 27th Aug when they arrived ("Russia lashes out as U.S. ship arrives in Georgia") - so would be around the 17th September, and Iran and Bolivia striving for a new world order in their image ... we also need to remember Kremlinology: tit-for-tat ... (continual update, if any)

- Times' Christopher Meyer has an interesting piece on Postmodern vs Real diplomacy that would condemn the 'near abroad' to for ever be under Russia's heal through the 1815 Vienna doctrine of spheres of influence ... what about good old Westphalia? -
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Times Online: "Putin tells Britain: relations can only improve when you remove dissidents"

Vladimir Putin served notice yesterday that his country’s relations with Britain would never recover while London remained a base for anti-Russian dissent. Speaking to Western journalists and academics (...) the Russian Prime Minister covered a wide range of foreign policy issues in typically blunt and confident style. His central message was that Russia did not want to engage the West in a new Cold War but that it would react if provoked, as it feels it was last month in the Caucasus, where it judged that its interests were being threatened. (...) >>>

Updated: 12th Sep 2008
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LA Times: "Russia ships to join Venezuela naval exercises in Caribbean"

Four Russian vessels and 1,000 Russian military personnel are to participate. The move could further strain Washington-Moscow ties. Venezuela's naval intelligence chief, Adm. Salbatore Cammarata Bastidas, said in a statement that a task force including four Russian naval vessels and 1,000 Russian military personnel would take part in mid-November exercises with Venezuelan frigates, patrol boats, submarines and aircraft. (...) >>>
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Hurriyet: "Russia sends two long-range bombers to Venezuela"

Russia has flown two long-range bombers to Venezuela, flexing military muscle in Washington's traditional backyard as the former Cold War enemies spar on both sides of the Atlantic. The visit by the Tu-160 bombers is a show of strength by newly confident Russia at a time of tension with the United States after the war in Georgia and U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Wednesday the planes, which can carry nuclear missiles, were in the South American oil-exporting nation to strengthen military ties and counter U.S. regional influences. The bombers, known as Blackjacks, "were escorted by NATO fighter jets" during their flight to Venezuela, a Russian Air Force spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky said, according to the Interfax news agency. (...) The planes arrived days after Russia and Venezuela announced they will conduct joint naval exercises in the Caribbean later this year involving a nuclear-powered Russian battleship. The RIA news agency in Moscow said the two bombers would remain in Venezuela for several days for training flights over neutral waters returning to their base in Russia. Russia has expressed anger at the United States for sending naval ships to Georgia to deliver aid (...) >>>
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Hurriyet: "Russia warns Turkey on U.S. ships in Black Sea"

Russia said U.S. ships could only stay in the Black Sea for 21 days according to the Montreux Convention, and warned if they do not leave by then Turkey would be responsible. Russia's deputy military chief Anatoly Nogovitsyn said the NATO warships' entrance to the "serious threat to our security," Hurriyet daily reported on Thursday. He said under the Montreux Convention, signed in 1936 on the status of the Turkish Straits, the warships can only stay in the Black Sea for 21 days. "If the NATO ships continue to stay in the Black Sea after the expiration of 21 day-period, then I would like to remind you that Turkey would be responsible," he added. The warships are spearheading a humanitarian aid mission to Georgia, (...) >>>
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Helsingin Sanomat: "COMMENTARY: Georgia and Russia - it’s worth reading the lines themselves"

(...) During the time of the Soviet Union, Kremlinology was practiced, involving intense reading between the lines as a way of understanding Russia’s actions. Sometimes it is worth considering the other option of that more straightforward analysis. (...) According to Putin, the dissolution of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Now it has been pondered if the goal of the present behaviour in Russia would be the restoration of the age of the Soviet Union. (...) Another place to search for the logic behind Russia’s actions would be the other statements of Russian leaders - ones that have been repeated much more frequently (...) Kosovo’s independence can serve as an example for the independence of disputed provinces, such as South Osssetia and Abkhasia. Russia has repeatedly, during the time of both Putin and his successor Dmitri Medvedev, harped on the idea that it will not fail to react to the expansion of NATO, and to the missile defence system planned by the United States for Poland and the Czech Republic. (...) the need to establish a new security system for Europe. The idea is a continuity to a speech Putin held in Munich in 2007, in which he criticises as dangerous the attempt by the United States to establish a unipolar world. Putin called the expansion of NATO a serious provocation. (...) gave a warning about the consequences of eastward expansion. (...) >>>
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CNN: "Analysts: N. Korea completing missile test site"

The North Koreans are nearing completion on a previously undisclosed missile test site capable of launching long-range ballistic missiles and satellites, according to private analysts who obtained satellite imagery of the site. (...) A U.S. official said the intelligence community has known about the secret North Korean facility for several years and is monitoring it closely. (...) it will take another year or two for the North Koreans to complete construction (...) they could launch a missile from the site now if they wanted to do so. (...) North Korea conducted an underground test of a nuclear device two years ago and is believed to have six to 12 nuclear weapons. (...) >>>

Updated: 11th Sep 2008
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Politeia: "Breaking News from Prague"

(...) The US would halt its missile defense project in central Europe if Democrat Barack Obama won the Presidential election, US security expert Peter Huessy told Czech news agency CTK on Monday. (...) For the realization of the plans, according to Huessy, it would be desirable if a Republican President retained the White House. He supports John McCain's campaign.
He said if Obama won the election the anti-missile project would end, as both Joe Biden and Obama hate it. Huessy said the Democrats do not see Iran and North Korea as posing serious threats. (...) >>>
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RIA Novosti: "No link between Russia-Venezuela naval drills and Georgia - Moscow"

The upcoming joint Russian-Venezuelan naval exercise was agreed on long before the current Georgia crisis and is unrelated to the situation in the Caucasus, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday. "It is a pre-planned event that is not in any way connected to the situation in the Caucasus. The agreement [to hold the exercise] was reached a long time before what happened on August 7-8," Andrei Nesterenko said. Nesterenko said the exercise would not target any "third-party country." Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday the naval exercise would be held in the Caribbean in late November-early December. (...) >>>

Updated: 8th Sep 2008
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LA Times: "Czech official warns of crises involving Russia"

This week the lead Czech negotiator on the missile shield, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar, was in Washington for talks with U.S. officials about the deal, which was signed in July and awaits ratification by his country's Parliament. On Friday he spoke to Western reporters at the U.N. about Russia's swift military intervention in Georgia last month in defense of pro-Moscow separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A resurgent Russia, he said, has begun testing the West in the former Soviet Union's sphere of influence. He warned of new crises ahead, citing Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula as a possible site for a flash point. (...) >>>
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Poligazette: "US May Scrap Russia Nuclear Cooperation Next Week"

Back when Bush and Putin were still good friendsIn response to Russia’s invasion of neighboring Georgia several weeks ago, the United States will likely scrap a US-Russia civilian nuclear cooperation pact. A U.S. State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the scrapping is “probably going to happen next week. The president (George W. Bush) has to withdraw the document from Congress. So he needs to take that step, and that’s what will happen,” he said.

‘The agreement aims to allow US and Russian companies to form joint ventures in the nuclear sector and gives the go-ahead for exchanges of nuclear technology between the two countries, according to officials on both sides.’ Additionally, Russia would be able to ‘reprocess spent nuclear fuel originating in the United States, which accounts for most of the world market.’ (...) >>>

Updated: 7th Sep 2008
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Prague Daily Monitor: "PM: Russia-Georgia conflict best campaign for US radar"

The recent Georgian-Russian conflict in South Ossetia has been "the best campaign" for the planned stationing of a U.S. radar defence base on Czech soil, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) told reporters Thursday. (...) Some two-thirds of Czechs are still opposed to the project, according to polls. (...) >>>

Updated: 6th Sep 2008
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Russia's Foreign Minister in a CNN interview today signaled Russia's continued threats over Georgia and Ukraine membership of NATO: there would be 'repercussions'. There appears to be public consensus that Russia 'lost the media war' in the Georgian crisis. Indeed they appear on the retreat, assuring Russia has no territorial designs on the near abroad. In fact, the accusation that "Ukraine might be next" is "masterminded by the 'not so democratic' regime in Tbilisi" and NATO which is looking for something to 'protect'. Russia still wants to work with the US on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. The Georgian crisis had no relation with 'pipelines'. The Cold War rhetoric has folded and is now projected onto the US. Elsevier Magazine is reporting today that Ukraine's FM in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine states that Russia is issuing passports to ethnic Russians on a massive scale; the same happened in South Ossetia in the Georgian crisis, when Russia was allegedly provoked into action to protect their 'citizens'. -

Voice Of America: "US Vice President in Ukraine"

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has arrived in Ukraine as part of a tour of several former Soviet republics, amid an escalating standoff with Russia over its operations in Georgia. Cheney flew to Kiev from Tbilisi, where he called Russia's recent military action in Georgia an "illegitimate, unilateral attempt" to change the country's borders by force. He said Russia's actions have cast doubt on its intentions and its reliability as an international partner. (...) >>>

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Telegraph: "Dick Cheney tells Ukraine's leaders to unite in face of Russian threat"
- Bloomberg: "Cheney Says Russia Runs Risk Confrontation With NATO (Update2) "

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Voice of America: "US Vice President Condemns Russia's Unilateral Border Move"

Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Vice President Cheney said Russian actions in Georgia "cast grave doubt on Russia's intentions and on its reliability as an international partner, not just in Georgia, but across this region and indeed throughout the international system." Mr. Cheney added that America will work with the governments of Georgia and other allies to protect common U.S.-Georgian interests and values.
"After your nation won its freedom in the Rose Revolution, America came to the aid of this courageous young democracy," he said. "We are doing so again as you work to overcome an invasion of your sovereign territory, and an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change your country's borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world." (...) >>>

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Monsters and Critics: In photos: 'US Vice President Cheney Visits Ukraine and Georgia'

Updated: 4th Sep 2008
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... more proof that for its part Russia never stopped the Cold War logic - the 'near abroad' aren't sovereign states but satellites, buffers, clients, and colonies - the imperialized; the West is still 'the enemy'; this paranoia explains why anything we do is seen as a hostile act ...

CNN: "Russia weighs response to NATO ships"


(...) Russia Monday accused "foreign navy ships" of delivering weapons to Georgia as the European Union met to discuss possible sanctions against Moscow. Putin, visiting Uzbekistan to promote the launch of a natural gas pipeline Tuesday, said that its response to ships would be "calm, without any sort of hysteria. But of course, there will be an answer," (...) >>>

Updated: 3rd Sep 2008
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... on PJs Sean Guillory writes in "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cold War II" - an article open to some criticism - that on a psychological level the Islamist adversary never was as satisfactory to the West as the Soviet Union was as a rival ... too diffuse, too racist, too asymmetrical. That's one point to ponder. Another is, do we need an equal adversary to keep the moral dichotomy in tact: in our enemy we see the face of evil so that we know by contrast what is the good? As Kant feared, One World relativism seems to be leading to post-democratic totalitarianism, a.k.a. transnational progressivism. Any takers? ...

FT: "Russia anounces ‘spheres of interest’"

Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday announced Moscow’s intention to preserve geographical spheres “of privileged interest” on or near its borders as part of a five point foreign policy statement in a television interview.

The announcement, in the wake of the recent conflict in Georgia, is likely to raise the political temperature in neighbouring states, especially those with significant Russian minorities, as they try to gauge Russia’s appetite for future conflicts in the region. He said that Russia would defend “the life and dignity” of Russian citizens “no matter where they are located”. (...)

He also focused on a commitment to international law, and again expressed Moscow’s now familiar antipathy to a “unipolar” world dominated by Washington, saying “this type of world is unstable and threatens conflict”.

Mr Medvedev’s announcement that Russia has “regions of priviledged interest” is likely to be greeted with concern in the west, where it might be interpreted as the announcement that Moscow has imperial ambitions in the former Soviet Union. It is also likely to resonate in Crimea, the province of Ukraine that is dominated by ethnic Russians, ethnically Russian northern Kazakhstan, and Baltic states with large Russian minorities.

"Russia, like other countries in the world, has regions in which it has privileged interests” said Mr Medvedev. “In these regions are located countries which have friendly relations…Russia will work attentively in these regions" he said, adding these "privileged" regions included states bordering Russia, but not only those. >>>

Updated: 1st Sep. 2008
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Telegraph: "Vladimir Putin demands Asia pipeline as warning to Europe"

The announcement on the eve of Monday's Brussels summit on Russia's occupation of Georgia put European states on notice that Moscow is developing an alternative client base in the Far East. To stave off tough measures, including possible sanctions, Moscow has sent a variety of signals that it will use its energy clout to retaliate against any European reprimand for its refusal to implement a ceasefire with Georgia. Russia's Asian pipeline is a technically challenging effort to link the oilfields of Eastern Siberia to Russia's Pacific coast thousands of miles to the east. Mr Putin visited Kozmino, a giant oil terminal, where the resources will be loaded for transportation to China and Japan. (...) Last week The Daily Telegraph learned that Russian energy chiefs were preparing to implement a reduction in supplies through the Western pipelines as early as Monday. (...) >>>

Updated: 31st Aug. 2008
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Front Page: "Re-Establishing The Cold War Connection?"

With its victory sealed over Georgia, Russia is starting to make life uncomfortable for another American ally. Last week’s two-day meeting in the southern Russian city of Sochi between Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad and Russia’s President Dimitri Medvedev is causing Israel no little concern. Syria was the second country after Belarus to publicly support Russia (...) Olmert appears to be to taking no chances and is now planning to to Russia himself in early September (...) >>>

Updated: 30th Aug. 2008
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... for those interested, a view from the other side (which can be enlightening, if a little irrational) ...

- World Socialist Web Site: "Georgian crisis heightens US-Russian tensions over Ukraine"
- Blenz's Spot: "US and NATO use recent Russia-Georgia conflict for dress rehearsal for military attack on Iran..."

... while Vice President Dick Cheney will travel next week to Georgia and other former Soviet republics ... here's cynical sushi ...

The Press Association: "Putin: US behind war in Georgia"

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the US of starting the fighting in Georgia. (...) He told CNN the fighting that followed benefited one of the US presidential election candidates, without saying whether it was Barack Obama or John McCain.Mr Putin said Russia had no choice but to invade Georgia after some of its peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia were attacked during the invasion. (...) Meanwhile French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the EU was considering sanctions against Russia. Three days before an emergency EU summit in Brussels, Mr Kouchner said "sanctions were being considered, as well as other means" to address the issue, but he did not specify. Mr Kouchner said the aim of Monday's extraordinary summit, the first since the 2003 Iraq war, would be to "draw up a strong statement reflecting our determination not to accept" the situation in Georgia. (...) Georgia has already pulled all but two diplomats from its embassy in Moscow (...) >>>
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... what's more frightening? Russia's ambassador to NATO's talk in an interview with Vremya Novostei that any NATO attack on the Moscow-backed regions would "mean a declaration of war on Russia", or the person of UK's Foreign Secretary Miliband visit to Ukraine "against Russian aggression"? ...

Sydney Morning Herald: "Russia warns NATO as West fumes over Georgia"

(...) Tensions ran high with a spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saying Russia was taking unspecified measures there to counter its fears that Washington was rearming Georgia under cover of supplying aid. "Certainly some measures of precaution are being taken.... Let's hope we do not see any direct confrontation in that," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding: "It's not a common practice to deliver humanitarian aid using battleships." One of three ships sent by Washington to deliver relief supplies after this month's five-day conflict between Georgia and Russia -- the US Coast Guard cutter Dallas -- docked in Georgia on Wednesday. (...) The West says some ships in the Black Sea are part of planned exercises while others are delivering aid to Georgia, where about 100,000 people were displaced by the conflict, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Russia moved its own naval forces to the Abkhaz port of Sukhumi (...) >>>

Updated: 28th Aug. 2008
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... the West was as wrong on Kosovo as Russia is on Georgia and its two rebel eparchies ... following article highlights how these 'exceptions' got the basics of international relations into a knot:

Bloomberg: "Medvedev Seeks Support From China, Allies on Georgia"

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meets his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao today, seeking support from Asian allies for Russia's recognition of two Georgian regions, a move widely condemned in the West. (...) While Russia would seek to win a formal recognition from members of the group, Volk said such a decision for countries like China and India, which have separatist regions of their own, would amount to "chopping the branch they sit on.'' (...) Ukraine today refused to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. President Viktor Yushchenko said "we regret Russia's decision'' on the regions. (...) The missile cruiser "Moskva'' and two other warships from Russia's Black Sea fleet docked today at the Abkhaz capital Sukhumi on the Russian navy's first ``official visit'' (...) >>>

Updated: 27th Aug. 2008
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Times Online: "Russian threat to Nato supply route in Afghanistan"

Russia played a trump card in its strategic poker game with the West yesterday by threatening to suspend an agreement allowing Nato to take supplies and equipment to Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia. The agreement was struck at a Nato summit in April to provide an alternative supply route to the road between the Afghan capital and the Pakistani border, which has come under attack from militants on both sides of the frontier this year. (... Nato) has not started using the “northern corridor” because the deal – covering nonmilitary supplies and nonlethal military equipment – has yet to be cleared with the Central Asian states involved. The need for an alternative route was highlighted by recent attacks on Nato supply convoys (...) Russia had not informed the alliance officially of any decision to annul the northern corridor agreement. >>>


Updated: 26th Aug. 2008
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Townhall: "Understated Georgian Crisis," by Charles Krauthammer"

Read the first five paragraphs of the NATO statement on the Russian invasion of Georgia and you will find not a hint of who invaded whom. The statement is almost comically evenhanded. "We deplore all loss of life," it declared, as if deploring a bus accident. And, it "expressed its grave concern over the situation in Georgia." Situation, mind you. It's not until paragraph six that NATO, a 26-nation alliance with 900 million people and nearly half of world GDP, unsheathes its mighty sword, boldly declaring "Russian military action" -- not aggression, not invasion, not even incursion, but "action" -- to be "inconsistent with its peacekeeping role." Having launched a fearsome tautology Moscow's way, what further action does the Greatest Alliance Of All Time take? Cancels the next NATO-Russia Council meeting. That's it. (...) >>>
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Pajamas: "Will NATO Abandon Ukraine Too? - A newly aggressive Russia sure hopes so," by Kim Zigfeld

(...) NATO told Ukraine that it was “only a matter of time” before it would be granted membership. Let’s be blunt: That time has now run out. NATO must act immediately, and it must do more than simply give Ukraine a promise of defense. It must arm Ukraine to the teeth. It must make it such a hard target that the lunatics who “govern” neo-Soviet Russia will not even consider moving against it, as they recently did in Georgia. The reasons are so obvious that they hardly need to be stated. The role played by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in brutally assaulting Ukraine has not been sufficiently reported (...) Last week, Ukraine demanded that Russia give 72 hours notice before activating war ships at its naval base in Crimea, on Ukrainian territory (similar to the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba). Russia said it would simply ignore the demand (...) >>>

Related: Novosti: "Ukraine proposes drafting Black Sea fleet deal with Russia"
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BBC: "UN split over Georgia resolutions"

The UN Security Council is deadlocked over the situation in Georgia with the US and Russia rejecting rival resolutions on the crisis. Washington says it is prepared to veto a Russian resolution seeking to implement a six-point ceasefire plan. Russia has reiterated its opposition to a rival French text reaffirming Georgia's territorial integrity. Russian says its troops will leave Georgia on Friday but 500 will stay in a "buffer zone" around South Ossetia. Local reports suggest Russian troops are still dug in at positions inside Georgia, but there has been some movement around the town of Gori, which Russia has promised to leave by 1600 GMT (...) >>>
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German Marshall Fund: "Conflict in the South Caucasus"

The German Marshall Fund has been tracking the developments in the wider Black Sea region for the past few years. Experts from our Washington, DC, headquarters and European offices have contributed detailed commentary on the current discussion surrounding the Russia-Georgia conflict and Georgia's previous democratic and economic development. The discussion is available through the following outlets (...) >>>

Updated: 22nd Aug. 2008
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Voice of America: "Russia Suspends Cooperation With NATO"

Russia has stopped all military cooperation with NATO after alliance foreign ministers said future ties depend on Russia pulling back troops in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the Bush administration says Russia is violating an agreement to withdraw those troops. Russia has notified NATO that it is halting international military cooperation with the alliance until further notice. (...) >>>
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... the question may be justified slowly but surely, if the Cold War logic only really changed in the West? The Assad rhetoric comes across as if there never was a hiatus between Cold War I and II ... remember Iran ... we'd better polish up our bipolar world history lessons ...

Times Online: "Fear of new Mid East 'Cold War' as Syria strengthens military alliance with Russia"

Syria raised the prospect yesterday of having Russian missiles on its soil, sparking fears of a new Cold War in the Middle East. President Assad said as he arrived in Moscow to clinch a series of military agreements: “We are ready to co-operate (...) Russia really has to think of the response it will make when it finds itself closed in a circle.” Mr Assad said that he would be discussing the deployment of Russian missiles on his territory (...) buying Russian weapons. In return Moscow is expected to propose a revival of its Cold War era naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus, which would give the Russian Navy its first foothold in the Mediterranean for two decades. Damascus and Moscow were close allies during the Cold War (...) Yesterday’s rapprochement raised the possibility that Moscow intends to re-create a global anti-Western alliance with former Soviet bloc allies. Many in Israel fear that the Middle East could once again become a theatre for the two great powers to exert their spheres of influence, militarily and politically. And with Israel and the US providing military backing to Georgia, Russia appears set to respond in kind by supporting Syria. (...) >>>

Related:

- Macedonia Online: "Russian Aircraft Carrier heads for Syria"(Russia's only aircraft carrier)

- Jerusalem Post: "Analysis: Assad's shopping list"

Updated: 21st Aug. 2008
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WSJ: "Russia's Nuclear Threat Is More Than Words"

Has a shift in the nuclear balance between the U.S. and Russia helped embolden the bear? Under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which went into force in 1994, both the U.S. and the USSR made radical cuts in their strategic nuclear arsenals -- that is, in weapons of intercontinental range. (...) at the tactical, or short-range, level (...) the U.S., acting unilaterally and with virtually no fanfare, sharply cut back its stockpile of nonstrategic nuclear warheads. (...) According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, not one of these weapons exists today. (...)

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.

Not only has Russia retained a sizable nuclear arsenal, its military and political leaders regularly engage in aggressive bluster (...) Six months ago, Russia began sending cruise missile-capable Bear H bombers on sallies along the coast of Alaska. As recently as July, the newspaper Izvestia floated the idea that Moscow would station nuclear weapons in Cuba if the U.S. went ahead with the deployment of an antiballistic missile radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland. Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, chief of Russia's strategic missile command, has openly spoken about aiming nuclear-tipped missiles at those two countries. Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that if it were to join NATO, "Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory." Not long before that, Mr. Putin cheerfully described a series of ballistic-missile flight tests as "pleasant and spectacular holiday fireworks."(...) >>>

Updated: 21st Aug. 2008
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Yahoo!News: "Rice signs missile defense deal with Poland"

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart signed a deal Wednesday to build a U.S. missile defense base in Poland, an agreement that prompted an infuriated Russia to warn of a possible attack against the former Soviet satellite. Rice dismissed blustery comments from Russian leaders who say Warsaw's hosting of 10 U.S. interceptor missiles just 115 miles from Russia's westernmost frontier opens the country up to attack. Such comments "border on the bizarre frankly," Rice said, speaking to reporters traveling with her in Warsaw. "When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988," Rice said. "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." (...) >>>

Updated: 20th Aug. 2008
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New York Sun: "Echoes of Berlin Olympics"

(...) America has no capacity to join Georgia in arms and does not want a direct military confrontation with Russia. But in effect we are putting feet on the ground in Tbilisi and its airport, which should make it plain to Mr. Putin that an assault on them is an attack on America. There's a parallel here to the situation in Berlin in June 1948, when the Soviets cut off land access to West Berlin. (...)

Mr. Putin's Russia (...) invaded also because Georgia is the chokepoint on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that is the sole means except through Russia of transporting oil from the Caucasus and potentially natural gas from Central Asia to Europe and the wider world. (...) >>>

Updated: 19th Aug. 2008
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... blowback ...

BBC: "Ukraine offers West radar warning"

Ukraine has said it is ready to make its missile early warning systems available to European nations following Russia's conflict with Georgia. The foreign ministry said Moscow's abrogation earlier this year of an accord involving two tracking stations allowed it to co-operate with others.

President Viktor Yushchenko said his country could ensure its sovereignty only through collective security. Last week, Kiev limited the freedom of movement of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The move came after several of the fleet's warships, based at Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimea's peninsula, were deployed along the Georgian coastline. Moscow denounced the restrictions as anti-Russian (...) >>>

Updated: 17th Aug. 2008
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Telegraph: "After Russia's invasion of Georgia, what now for the West?" by John Bolton

As bad as the bloodying of Georgia is, the broader consequences are worse. The United States fiddled while Georgia burned, not even reaching the right rhetorical level in its public statements until three days after the Russian invasion began, and not, at least to date, matching its rhetoric with anything even approximating decisive action. This pattern is the very definition of a paper tiger. (...)

The European Union took the lead in diplomacy, with results approaching Neville Chamberlain’s moment in the spotlight at Munich: a ceasefire that failed to mention Georgia’s territorial integrity, and that all but gave Russia permission to continue its military operations as a “peacekeeping” force anywhere in Georgia. More troubling, over the long term, was that the EU saw its task as being mediator – its favourite role in the world – between Georgia and Russia, rather than an advocate for the victim of aggression.

Even this dismal performance was enough to relegate Nato to an entirely backstage role, while Russian tanks and planes slammed into a “faraway country”, as Chamberlain once observed so thoughtfully. In New York, paralysed by the prospect of a Russian veto, the UN Security Council, that Temple of the High-Minded, was as useless as it was during the Cold War. (...) >>>
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Politeia: "The War on Reality: The Return of the Evil Empire"

(...) How to get the popular liberty genie, released by the Enlightenment, back into the bottle? For such a feat nothing less than the perception of reality needs to be altered (...) Apart of manipulation of reality, ingraining is helped along by the use of physical coercion. (...) The main tool of Communism has always been the mind-games played on the masses as a means of control. The Nazis excelled in this as well. Leonard Peikoff in The Ominous Parallels makes the case that the Nazi concentration camps were actually a gigantic controlled experiment in mind-control. The Communist gulags and mental hospitals in which enemies of the collective were interned, are similar laboratories of evil. (...) Georgian President Saakashvili, himself well versed in the intricacies of the Soviet war on reality, in a interview said it like this: "They use lies as an instrument of communication." (...) When will the relatived stooges, the useful idiots, get their heads around the fact that America - far from being the enemy - is the sole guarantor against the global dystopia? The Evil Empire never was about ideology. It was always about power for power's sake. Communism was but a means to the same end. Geopolitical Darwinism will do as well, as it did before the onset of ideology. >>>

Updated: 16th Aug. 2008
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National Post: "'New Europe' shows resolve"

The Five Day War has revealed deep new divisions between Old and New Europe. On Tuesday, as Russia's armed forces pummelled Georgia by air, sea and land, five presidents from countries once controlled by the Soviet Union -- Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Poland -- staged a nighttime solidarity rally in Tbilisi with Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian President. With Russian tanks just 60 kilometres away, they held hands in front of tens of thousands of cheering Georgians and rebuked Russia, vowing never to concede the independence they have cherished since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. "We know that if other peoples' freedom is threatened … then it's not long before our freedom is threatened," said Toomas Hendrik of Estonia. (...) >>>

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... yesterday we reduced this 'pseudo pacifism' back to the hang-over of the boomers, the postmodern dialectic ...a political handicap, self-imposed to compensate for the uniquely evil nature of Western hegemony ...

Times Online: "Georgia: Europe wins a gold medal for defeatism - Sarkozy's ‘peace in our time' deal is a reminder of what could happen if the EU wins more clout"

(...) the collapse of the West may be seen in the distinctly weak-kneed response to Russian aggression in Georgia by what is still amusingly called the transatlantic alliance. Once again, the Europeans, and their friends in the pusillanimous wing of the US Left, have demonstrated that, when it come to those postmodern Olympian sports of synchronized self-loathing, team hand-wringing and lightweight posturing, they know how to sweep gold, silver and bronze.

There's a routine now whenever some unspeakable act of aggression is visited upon us or our allies by murderous fanatics or authoritarian regimes. While the enemy takes a victory lap, we compete in a shameful medley relay of apologetics, defeatism and surrender. The initial reaction is almost always self-blame and an expression of sympathetic explanation for the aggressor's actions. In the Russian case this week, the conventional wisdom is that Moscow was provoked by the hot-headed President Saakashvili of Georgia. It was really all his fault, we are told. (...)

What's more, the argument goes, the US and Europe had already laid the moral framework for Russia's invasion by our own acts of aggression in the past decade. Vladimir Putin was simply following the example of illegal intervention by the US and its allies in Kosovo and Iraq. It ought not to be necessary to point out the differences between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Mr Saakashvili's Georgia, but for those blinded by moral relativism, here goes (...) >>>

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Times Online: "US accuses Russia of campaign of scorched earth in Georgia -US raises the stakes with missile shield pact to defend Poland"

(...) In a clear sign that the Georgia crisis was escalating into a broader superpower conflict, the US reached agreement with Poland last night over the controversial missile defence shield.

Under the deal, the US will beef up Polish defences with Patriot rockets and place ten missile defence interceptors in Poland. Donald Tusk, the Polish Prime Minister, said that the US had pledged to come to the aid of his country if it came under attack. (...) >>>

Updated: 15th Aug. 2008
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... how far the postmodernists in Europe have got removed from reality becomes apparent when one hears the comments along the lines of 'power politics has no place in the 21st century' -- surely their moralizing will deeply impress the muscle men, whose rhetoric is opposed by their actions ...

Politeia:

- "The Intricacies of Postmodern Diplomacy"
- "Caught Sleeping in Tbilisi"

Front Page: "Behind Russia's Bluster"

While Russia's bombs rained and its tanks rolled over Georgian soil, much of the world oscillated between shock and bewilderment. Something just didn't appear to add up. As President Bush pointed out from China, Russia’s response is completely out of proportion to the stakes involved in the Ossetian territorial dispute. By flexing its military muscle in this way, the Kremlin is clearly pursuing some other agenda. A clue as to what it is happening can be found in an avowal made last month. After Condoleezza Rice had signed an agreement with the Czech Republic to host a radar in the ballistic defense shield, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement which said that Russia “will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods.” This was not the first time Russia expressed its objections to the ballistic shield. A year ago, then President Vladimir Putin shocked the world by raising the possibility of nuclear measures against the project’s European participants. In a move designed to frighten and intimidate, Putin said this the eve of last year’s G-8 meeting: It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States is located in Europe we will have to respond. What kind of steps are we are going to take in response? Of course we are going to acquire new targets in Europe. (...)Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had it almost right when said that the Russian offensive is “in a certain sense also an aggression against America.” What we are seeing now in Georgia is a brazen attempt at intimidation. Its objective is to make clear to the United States and our allies that Russia is not to be contended with lightly. But before we get wobbly in the knees, it would be wise to review the current state of Russia’s military to see how formidable our opponent actually is. At 1.13 million strong, the Russian army may be formidable in size, but (...) >>>

Updated: 13th Aug. 2008
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The Brussels Journal: "Obama’s European Love Parade," by Soeren Kern

More than 200,000 Germans turned out in Berlin on July 24 to hear a carefully stage-managed Barack Obama tell them exactly what they wanted to hear: If he becomes US president, America will become a whole lot more like Europe. (...) Given his lack of foreign experience, Obama’s views on Europe may be easier to discern by examining what some of his foreign policy advisors are saying about Europe. (...) The biggest barrier to European superpowerdom, however, is its lack of a credible military capability. As a result, Europeans are working assiduously to balance the geopolitical scale with the United States by establishing a system of international law that de-legitimizes the use of military “hard power.” Obama (...) either does not fully understand the ramifications for the United States of further European enlargement, or that as a “global citizen” Obama wants to replace American exceptionalism with a post-modern globalist agenda of saving the planet from, well, America. (...) a warning to Americans: Beware. >>>

Updated: 27th July 2008
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Politeia: "On Memory Lane: the Cold War Continues"

News is breaking of a US-Russian spat, reminiscent of a rather romantic episode in the good, old bipolar days of the Cold War - the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia's Izvestia newspaper this week quoted a "highly placed source" as saying Russia could land Tu-160 supersonic bombers nicknamed "White Swans" in Cuba in response to a planned U.S. missile defense shield in Europe that Moscow opposes. (...) Cuban officials have made no comment (...) According to Reuters, Russian officials have denied the Izvestia report. The Russophobe begs to disagree: "The possible deployment of Russian strategic bombers in Cuba may be an effective response to the placement of NATO bases near Russia's borders," a former Air Force commander said on Monday. Robert Kagan it would appear, has a point regarding history retaking its normal course after Europe's strong Kantian/Hegelian push for a global Utopia (...) >>>

Updated: 25th July 2008
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The Guardian: "Czechs take measures to offset Russian crude cuts"

The Czech Republic's main oil refiner said on Saturday it was tapping state oil reserves and bringing in crude through an alternate pipeline after Russia cut deliveries to the central European state. Czech officials said on Friday the cuts would nearly halve incoming oil from Russia -- which could hurt ties already under strain after the Czechs disregarded Russian objections and signed a missile defence pact with the United States this week. The European Union and NATO member has been quick to quell speculation the reduced deliveries are politically motivated, and refinery Unipetrol said they were the result of "technical organisational" problems in Russia. (...) >>>

Updated: 14th July 2008
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Prague Daily Monitor: "Rice, Schwarzenberg sign radar deal"

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg signed a treaty on the stationing of a U.S. radar base on Czech soil within the anti-missile shield, which drew a sharp reaction by Russia. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said he is convinced that the treaty will be ratified by parliament. (...) The United States has not yet completed negotiations with Poland where the other element of Central European anti-missile defence, ten interceptor missiles, is to be stationed. (...) >>>

Updated: 9th July 2008
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... whatever else may be said about good neighbourly intentions... at least they've got freedom of xpression ...
... for an indepth explanation on the Macedonian issue, here's a comprehensive lecture from Australia's Hellenic Studies Forum) ...

Bloomberg: "NATO Snubs Ukraine, Georgia, Macedonia; Blow to Bush", by James G. Neuger

NATO rebuffed bids by Ukraine and Georgia to be put on a path toward membership, dealing a blow to President George W. Bush's goal of extending the western military alliance into the former Soviet heartland. (...) In a separate setback, Greece snarled alliance expansion into southeastern Europe by blocking entry for the Republic of Macedonia. Two other Balkan countries -- Croatia and Albania -- will be invited to join, alliance leaders agreed late yesterday at a summit in Bucharest. (...)

Germany and France led the opposition to declaring the two eligible for membership, arguing that Ukraine's society is split and that secession movements within Georgia would import instability into NATO. (...) Russia "will cry victory,'' Saakashvili said yesterday in Bucharest. (...)

Macedonia fails to meet the "crucial conditions of good neighborly relations,'' Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters in Bucharest. (...) Allied leaders are intent on bringing Macedonia in "as soon as possible'' once the name dispute is settled (...) >>>

Updated: 3rd Apr 2008
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... we've come a long way since the Cold War, but Pat Buchanan has stark warning ... and he has a point ... read "Should We Fight For South Ossetia?" ...

Prague Daily Monitor: "US, ČR might announce radar deal at NATO summit" Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may announce the signing of the main treaty on the stationing of a U.S. radar base on Czech soil at NATO summit in Bucharest starting on Wednesday. (...) >>>
Updated: 1st Apr 2008
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The Guardian: "Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told"

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".(...) >>>

Updated: 22nd Jan. 200θ
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Prague Daily Monitor: "ČSSD might support radar if Iran has missiles"

The Czech opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) are ready to change its negative stance on the planned U.S. radar base on Czech soil if it turned out that Iran owns ballistic missiles, CSSD chairman Jiri Paroubek told Czech reporters after Tuesday's meetings with U.S. representatives.

He, however, added, that so far the CSSD considers the potential danger from Iran that the USA cites as one of the main reasons for its missile defence shield to be nothing but "virtual reality," and that his party cannot see why it should change its position now. >>>

Updated: 25 Nov. 2007

Related:

- "The Cold War"
- "Caucasian Heat"
- "Rumbling Russia"
- "Communist Crimes on Trial"

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