|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Asymmetric Response: Russian Cruise Missiles in Belarus?
Nov. 15 (EIRNS)Russian and Belarusian military commanders have warned that emplacement of Russian short-range nuclear missiles, the 500-km "Iskander," in Belarus could be an asymmetric response to the U.S. forging ahead with anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Gen. Col. Vladimir Zaritsky, commander of missile and artillery in Russia's Ground Forces, said yesterday that such a deployment would be an appropriate reaction to the U.S. moves, adding, "What the Motherland needs will be done." In a separate statement, Gen. Mikhail Puzikau, who holds the equivalent post in the Belarusian Armed Forces, said that Minsk intends to purchase the Iskander in its shorter-range export version, in any event.
As EIR reported on June 15, forward deployment of the Iskander has been under study for some time, as a response to the strategic threat to Russia from the planned systems in Eastern Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in coordination with former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and others, moved earlier this year in negotiations with President George W. Bush at Kennebunkport, Maine, to shift the ABM agenda away from such a showdown, towards Russian-American cooperation on missile defense.
These statements from military men came as Russian Chief of the General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky was in Brussels for discussions with NATO chiefs of staff, on the ABM issue. Last week, several Russian Foreign Ministry officials warned that the United States had not followed through in writing, on verbal proposals made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Moscow last month, regarding the ABM issue. "We have not received any clear explanations from our U.S. partners," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Nov. 7. The next day, Russian Foreign Ministry North American Department chief Igor Neverov said that Moscow wanted to see written proposals, before the next working group meeting on ballistic-missile defense, late this month. A Russian diplomatic source told Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Nov. 12 issue) about concerns that the "innovative and bold ideas" Gates and Rice had shared, in furtherance of the Kennebunkport process, would be thrown out by others in Washington, who don't agree with them.
Lavrov and Deputy Premier Sergei Ivanov each had a meeting with Kissinger in Moscow last week, where he was attending a conference on the 200th anniversary of Russian-American diplomatic relations. Kissinger also spoke by phone with Putin.
Russian Warns U.S. Against 'Same Mistake as Truman'
Nov. 16 (EIRNS)Former Ambassador Anatoli Adamashin, a senior Russian diplomat, today warned a Washington conference on the 50th anniversary of Sputnik, that the proposal to station components of a U.S. ballistic-missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic has created "the most difficult question in our relationship." Departing from his prepared remarks, Adamishin said that some people in Washington "say the Russian response is exaggerated or paranoid." But Russians "have a longer memory of what happened during the Cold War."
The Cold War, he stated, was produced by the "breakthrough in atomic energy, and the great temptation to use it." Then, the Soviet leadership "repeated the same error of Truman," by provoking the Cuban missile crisis, believing nuclear missiles were "the ultimate arms." This "historical memory urges us not to make the blunders of the past," he counseled.
The Czech radar, he said, leads to suspicion in Russia that the U.S. is preparing a first strike, which could lead "our people in Russia to prepare to make a first strike to prevent an attack." The ambassador's remarks were echoed by Susan Eisenhower, the late President's granddaughter, who said that people do not understand how fragile the current U.S.-Russian relationship is, and that if the missile-defense negotiation process "really goes south," the U.S. and Russia "stand to lose a lot of the cooperation," most notably in civilian space exploration, "and this is unacceptable; the Cold War is over."
Asked by a member of the audience what can be done, Adamishin said, "Make us an offer we can't refuse." He recalled that after announcing his SDI proposal, President Reagan wrote to three successive Soviet leaders, calling for a joint ban on space weapons, but did not receive a reply. The previous evening, at a Russian Embassy reception celebrating 200 years of Russia-U.S. diplomatic relations, the ambassador was reminded by EIR's Bill Jones that as late at 1987, President Reagan, as recorded in his memoirs, was still trying to engage the Soviet leadership in a joint missile-defense system.
Russian Space Program Sees Start of 'Renaissance'
Nov. 16 (EIRNS)After the 1990s near-collapse of the Soviet space program, when "free market" economic policies nearly destroyed a half-century of Russian scientific and technical patrimony, President Putin's personal support has started a "renaissance" in the civilian space sector, Russian space experts reported today at a conference in Washington.
Academician Lev Zelyony, director of the prestigious Russian Space Research Institute in Moscow, told the conference on Sputnik's 50th anniversary, that after the "decay of the Soviet Union, we had a bad time, in the 1990s." Very few space missions were started, and science was suffering. The loss of the Russian Phobos mission to Mars in 1989 was a blow to the space science programs. In private conversations, he said that that mission had lacked proper support. More recently, he reported, the problem was compounded following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in February 2003, when Russia was called upon to supply all of the transportation to and from the International Space Station. "Space science was cut, as 50% of the budget had to go to manned space flight."
But Russia is now planning new space science missions for the second 50 years of the space age, including exploring new physics hypotheses from space, exploring the question of the origin of life, and life beyond the Earth. But, he reminded the audience, "we are not going into space just to do science." There is a "heritage in Russian philosophy" that is not just "pragmatic," reflected in the space program, from [Konstantin] Tsiolkovsky, Vladimir Vernadsky, and [Soviet "chief designer" Sergei] Korolyov."
Four Projects To Get Investment Fund Backing
Nov. 17 (EIRNS)A Russian government commission chaired by the new Minister of Regional Affairs Dmitri Kozak, meeting Nov. 15, approved 1.223 trillion rubles (close to $49 billion) of state financing for four megaprojects, out of which 422 billion rubles will come from the government's investment fund. This brings to 16 the number of projects that will receive Investment Fund financing. After many debates, a portion of Russia's oil export revenues, hitherto sequestered in a stabilization fund to be invested in foreign markets, is being allocated to the investment fund, which was set up in 2005.
The projects approved for funding this week are the Industrial Urals-Arctic Urals resource development scheme, the Southern Yakutia Comprehensive Development program, part of a toll road superhighway between St. Petersburg and Moscow, and high-speed rail between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, Finland.
Putin: Russia Needs High-Speed Urban Transport
Nov. 17 (EIRNS)On Nov. 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a session of the Presidium of the State Council, held in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on the topic of transport infrastructure. In addition to the recently affirmed ambitious railroad-building program, Putin focussed on the need for better air transport facilities. Russia is building up Krasnoyarsk as a transshipment hub, going so far as to quarrel with the major shipper Lufthansa Cargo, in an attempt to force Lufthansa to use Krasnoyarsk rather than Astrana, Kazakstan. Putin also pronounced the problem of the ever-worsening road traffic congestion in Moscow to be completely solvable. "Our megalopolises are literally 'choking' at rush hour because of the lack of surface transport," said Putin. "The solution is obvious: we need comprehensive programs to develop suburban and urban passenger transit. And special emphasis should be placed on off-street, high-speed transport, such as subway trains and high-speed trolleys."