|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin: No New Cold War, No 'Sticking Noses in Other People's Business'
Speaking May 13 in Sochi, where he attended ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of the Russian state television and radio broadcasting company, Russian President Vladimir Putin alluded to the recent ravings of Dick Cheney. Said Putin, "We will build our relations with our Western colleagues, patiently and calmly. I have already said that we will not be returning to the period of the Cold War.... What we need is to ensure normal, acceptable conditions for development in the foreign policy sphere. We don't need anything else. As long as people don't shove their noses into other people's affairs or declare the whole world their own sphere of influence, then we have quite enough of our own existing resources to ensure our own security absolutely reliably, in spite of any promising developments of theirs."
Putin spoke to other points. He stated that he will be expressing his views on the question of who succeeds him as President. He described how he rejected the first draft of his State of the Federation speech and coordinated the rewrite, with its emphasis on the country's demographic crisis, with the government ministries that will have to administer specific measures and spend money to implement them. Putin also discussed the dismissal of top law-enforcement officials May 12, including in the customs service, the FSB (state security), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's office. He said that the clean-out had resulted from the agencies' own anti-corruption processes, and "the work is not yet finished."
Russians See Deterioration in U.S. Relations
Political analyst Vyacheslav Nikonov, who is also an official of Russia's new Public Chamber, indicated he had been given the go-ahead by Public Chamber chairman Yevgeni Velikhov, the physicist, to deliver a certain message to World Russia Forum, held May 15-17 at the Hart U.S. Senate Building. The forum is a collaborative effort of academics and politicians in both countries to improve U.S.-Russian relations. Nikonov's message was: "Russia believes that we are living in a multi-polar world. Russia represents one of those poles. Russia considers itself a Euro-Pacific superpower, an energy superpower, a nuclear superpower, a space superpower, and a national resources superpower. Although Russia is not in good shape, it is in the best shape ever. It is also in the best mood ever. 48% of the Russian people believe that Russia is heading in the right direction. [Other speakers at the conference noted that Putin's own approval rating is much higher.] The goal of Russian policy is to create the conditions for national development. Russia's role as a power in the world is based on the United Nations. Russia is a sovereign democracy and believes it is the right of each state to be sovereign in accordance with the rules of international law. Institution-building takes decades. We are attempting to build a world of stability. We will not accept any undue outside influence on the policy of countries which are Russia's neighbors, nor will we permit any neighboring countries to drift into military alliances that may be aimed against Russia."
Nikonov noted that the EU and NATO, as institutions, kept arms-length from Russia "because we are too big and too Russian for them." Assessing U.S.-Russian relations as "at the lowest point in 20 years," Nikonov pointed to recent remarks by Sen. John McCain and former Sen. John Edwards recently in Brussels. Pointing to "minefields" that lie ahead, Nikonov said: "The upcoming G-8 meeting, where some people expect a scandal. Then there is the expected invitation by NATO at their next summit to Ukraine and Georgia to join. Kosovo is the first minefield. [The U.S. supports the independence of Kosovo from Serbia.] And then there is Russia's WTO membership." He cited "coinciding interests with the U.S." in the fields of on energy, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, among others, but noted that the recent Brussels energy forum dealt totally with Russian "oil imperialism."
Primakov Sees Trotskyite Roots of Neo-Con Doctrines
Speaking to RTR-TV on May 15, former Russian Foreign Minister and Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov noted that in Afghanistan, "The United Stateswell, let's say not directly createdbut it was with their help that bin Laden was created. They helped create [Afghansi drug lord] Hekmatyar. They helped create the Taliban. This was because everything was focused on the fight against the USSR. And now this has come back to haunt them."
Concerning current neo-con policy in the West, Primakov brought up the lessons of history: "It isn't possible to export democracy to countries that are not ready for such a type of democracy, which is forced on themdon't you see? For example, in their day the Trotskyites declared that they would export revolution to any country and the revolution would be permanent, regardless of the internal situation. This is how the Americans, without considering the internal situation, decided to sort out the situation in Iraq."
Tennenbaum Brings LaRouche to Russian Listeners
Jonathan Tennenbaum, billed as science advisor to many-time U.S. Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, made two media appearances in the Russian capital on May 18-19, in which he addressed the current economic and strategic crisis, and the pathway into the future, charted by LaRouche. The May 18 interview was aired on the Govorit Moskva (Moscow Speaking) radio program on a Moscow-area station that reaches an area with a population of 15 million. Tennenbaum answered questions from program host Serafim Melentyev, who began the broadcast by reading aloud the quotation from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with which President Vladimir Putin keynoted his May 10 Message to the Federal Assembly, and asking Tennenbaum why Putin had chosen precisely this excerpt from precisely this President. Tennenbaum replied that he had not had an opportunity to ask President Putin directly, but that, "the policies of Roosevelt are very timely todaynot just for Russia, but for the worldbecause the global economy is so unstable." The interview touched on the state of the U.S. auto industry, the global financial crisis, Cheney and the neo-cons as a threat to the United States, inclusively, and the principles and activity of Roosevelt and LaRouche.
Tennenbaum followed up on May 19 with a 40-minute webcast interview on the www.km.ru site. He fielded 16 questions e-mailed in on a range of subjects: the world economic crisis and the situation of the dollar; the relationship between science and the desire to turn to God; scientific questions including nuclear power, global warming, manned missions to Mars, the shrinkage of higher education; Russian-American relations, the role of the neo-cons and Cheney, the danger of the U.S. nuking Iran; the U.S. political scene, global "democratization", and how to bring youth into politics. In his replies, Tennenbaum was able to develop a lot on LaRouche, FDR, the fight to save industry in the United States, the common heritage of the USA and Russia from Leibniz, the defeatibility of Cheney, and much more.
SCO Members Cautious on Organizational Expansion
There are no plans to expand the membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but requests for membership will be discussed, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on May 17, who elaborated: "Due to the escalation of the situation surrounding Iran, such reports [of Iran membership] are going to appear ten times a day. There are no plans to broaden the SCO radically." During a meeting of SCO Foreign Ministers in Shanghai, earlier the same week, the Foreign Ministers of Tajikistan and Kazakstan spoke forcefully against such expansion. Currently Pakistan, India, Mongolia, and Iran have observer status with the SCO.
Russia Is Featured Guest at Berlin Aerospace Exhibit
The three-day International Aerospace Exhibit opened May 16 in Berlin. Russia's aerospace industry was the special guest nation this year, with 70 firms present. Besides civilian and military aircraft, the Russian pavilion featured space technologies: the GLONASS space-based navigation system, the Kliper reusable spacecraft, and two newly developed orbital space laboratories that can dock at the International Space Station. On May 18, Energiya spacecraft company head Nikolai Sevastyanov gave an ILA presentation on industrial extraction of helium-3 on the Moon for use in future high-temperature or fusion reactors. "The Moon is the closest place to Earth, where helium-3 can be extracted in such quantities," he said. "This fuel is highly effective, and it has no equivalents on our planet, where natural resources are limited." The establishment of a permanent lunar base would proceed in two phases. The first phase, costing $2 billion, could start in 2010-2015, involving Soyuz spaceships and Proton launch vehicles, Sevastyanov said. "The Russian segment of the International Space Station could be used as an assembly site for an inter-orbital space complex bound for the Moon." A second, 2015-2020 phase would focus on construction of a permanent transportation system for ferrying people and supplies to and from the moon. That would involve manned spacecraft based on the Kliper and inter-orbital trawlers, propelled by liquid-fuel jet engines.
The ILA was also an occasion for the Franco-German EADS and Russia's MiG and Irkut firms to sign a contract for refitting Airbus 320 and 321 planes as cargo transports. The work will be done in Russia.