|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin: Russian Nuclear Deterrence Key to Security
Russian President Vladimir Putin, addressing a conference on maintaining stable operations of the nuclear-weapons industry on March 30, in Novo-Ogarevo, said: "Analysis of the present international situation and the prospects for the future oblige Russia to view its nuclear deterrent as a fundamental element guaranteeing its security, and the Russian Federation's nuclear-weapons industry is the material base of the state's nuclear deterrence policy."
Putin also pointed out that over recent years, a lot of work has been done in the nuclear-weapons industry, "to develop appropriate technologies, forces, and assets for the nuclear deterrent," as well as a whole range of "conceptual documents determining the policy of the Russian Federation in this area," adding, "We are clear that any modernization of the nuclear industry will affect an exceptionally important area, the maintenance and stable operation of Russia's nuclear weapons industry."
Putin did not explicitly refer to the Spring 2006 Foreign Affairs article that claims Russia no longer has a deterrent (EIR Online Russia/CIS Digest last week), but it was the subject of extensive publicity and refutations by military men and others, in Russia.
Primakov Opposes Bush-Cheney Nuclear-Attack Doctrine
In an article written for the March "Russia in Global Affairs" website, former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov wrote that the model of six-party talks to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear question, should be applied to the Iranian nuclear question as well. It would be necessary to set up a group for organizing negotiations, involving Iran, Russia, the U.S., the European Union, and possibly China and India. Primakov also blasted the Cheney-Bush preventive nuclear attack, saying that this would negatively affect Russia-U.S. relations. The question arises, noted Primakov: Who will be the target of such an attack? The terrorists? Or countries like Iran? Once this doctrine is legislatively endorsed, we may not be far away from a new policy of containment which could involve Russia in a new arms race, although on an asymmetrical level.
New Pentagon Report Heightens U.S.-Russia Tension
Lackeys in the Pentagon press corps latched onto a new Pentagon report, to accuse Russia of having aided the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein at the time of the U.S. invasion. The new report, a product of the Iraqi Perspectives Project at U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., uses captured documents and interviews with Iraqi officers to attempt to create a picture of the perceptions and decision-making processes of the Iraqi leadership and military, from March to May 2003. That report cites two Iraqi documents that make reference to intelligence information supposedly obtained from Russian intelligence via the Russian Ambassador in Baghdad. One of those documents claimed that the U.S. attack from Kuwait was merely a diversion, and that the real attack would come from the west, specifically from Jordan, and would be launched by the 4th Infantry Division which had been refused entry into Turkey. The source of this information was supposedly a Russian agent inside U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar. Given that most of the information contained in these alleged Russian intelligence reports was wrong, the report characterizes such external sources as "fog generators obscuring the minds of Iraq's senior leadership."
Nonetheless, some reporters seized upon the report as "proof" that Russia was actively helping the Iraqi regime. Case in point: Rowan Scarborough of the Moonie Washington Times wrote on March 25, "The new disclosures show that Moscow was working against the Bush Administration in private, as it opposed in public the U.S. desire for a United Nations Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing the invasion." The report does not say that, and its authors, during a Pentagon press conference on March 24, refused to characterize those Iraqi documents in that way. More circumspect is the New York Times' Thom Shanker, who suggested that because so much of the information from Russian sources was wrong, it raises "at least the possibility that it was circulated as part of a deliberate American campaign intended to fool or demoralize Iraqi troops," a possibility also suggested by Associated Press.
Asked about the allegations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said March 27 that he was disappointed to have learned of the supposed U.S. concerns only through the media. Boris Labusov, the head of Foreign Intelligence Service's press service said, "This kind of unsubstantiated allegation against Russia's intelligence service has been voiced repeatedly."
Primakov Chairs 'Russia-Islam' Conference
The first session of a group called "Strategic Vision: Russia-Islamic World" opened in Moscow March 27. Former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov, currently head of the Russian Chamber of Trade and Industry, chaired the two-day event. Primakov read greetings from President Putin, who told the gathering: "Our country has long-standing traditions of good and constructive relations with Islamic countries. Russia supported many of them on their path to independence and helped to build up their national economies." Further, according to Interfax, Putin said that "only through joint efforts can the international community respond adequately to the threat of international terrorism and attempts to provoke a clash of civilizations." The Russian President, noting Russia's admission as an observer at the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that "the expansion of ties with the Islamic world on many levels" was "one of the most important priorities of Russian foreign policy."
According to Russian reports, participants in the meeting include former Presidents and foreign ministers from 20 Islamic countries. An IRNA wire carried on Iran.ru mentions that Iran is represented by Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Tashiri, Chairman of the World Organization for Rapprochement among Schools of Islam, and that people from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Indonesia, and Malaysia are among those present. Primakov, an Arabist who also served as Russia's foreign intelligence chief and as Foreign Minister in the 1990s, has continued diplomatic work on behalf of the Kremlin, during his Chamber of Trade and Industry-related travels.
In his own address to the meeting, Primakov included vigorous criticism of U.S. policy as incompetent and dangerous. Washington's "unthinking" drive to export "its model of democracy" to Islamic countries, he said, was being conducted "without regard for the historical correlation of forces inside these countries, or for experience, or for tradition." He said there exists no organic basis for a "clash of civilizations," but warned that a division of the world along religious and "civilizational" lines may occur, due to attempts to associate international terrorism with Islam. Again, concerning the "clash of civilizations," Primakov emphasized, "As one of the great powers, Russia is doing everything possible to block the development of this tendency."
According to Vesti.ru, Primakov said that the aggressive U.S. policy of forcing "its values" on Islamic states, is one of the main drivers of the spread of terrorism in the Near East. The United States-led operation in Iraq has turned that country into a major al-Qaeda staging ground. He said that al-Qaeda was using Islam as a cover, and that its victims were most often Muslims.
Noting that Russia has 20 million Muslims among its population, and that they are not immigrants, Primakov said, "The Christian majority and Muslim minority in Russia are a model of peaceful life together, so Russia may take a unique position, as bridge between Europe and Asia." He linked the rise of extremism in Islamic countries with "increasing globalization and the inequality between Islamic countries and those of the 'big billion.'"