|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Commentary Notes U.S.-Russian Bicentennial Year
Dec. 31 (EIRNS)"The destinies" of the U.S. and Russia "have crossed many times," for the good, writes Alexei Isakov, Division Head of the North American Department at the Russian Federation ministry of foreign affairs, in a year-end commentary published by Novosti on Dec. 30. Isakov notes that the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States, in 2007, is the time to "draw the necessary conclusions," and quotes from a beautiful letter written in July 1861 by then-Foreign Minister Alexander Gorchakov to the Russian envoy to the U.S., Eduard Stekl.
"The American Union is a nation for which the Emperor and the whole of Russia feels a very friendly interest," wrote Gorchakov, in the opening phases of the Civil War, "because the two countries situated at opposite ends of the Earth were naturally called in the preceding period in their development to a solidarity of interests and sympathy, of which they have already provided mutual proof."
The author refers to the high points of relations between Russia and United States, as far back as colonial times, in the 1698 meeting between Russian Tsar Peter the Great and William Penn in London, and later John Paul Jones' rank as rear admiral in the Russian Navy in the early 19th Century. Isakov describes Russian support for Lincoln during the U.S. Civil War. Later, the "meeting of the Soviet and American troops on the River Elbe near the German town of Torgau in April 1945 represents probably the greatest triumph in the history of our bilateral relations," Isakov wrote. He noted the "American supplies of military equipment, weapons and food under the Lend-Lease program."
These are the precedents for the kind of relationship that the two nations should have in the coming year, Isakov says. It is this rich history that can be tapped to create the core of the four-powers agreementamong the United States, Russia, China, and Indiathat Lyndon LaRouche has been building to create the new monetary and economic system among sovereign nation-states, to bring the world out of the current new dark age financial collapse.
Russia Warns Against British Provocation
Jan. 4 (EIRNS)The Russian foreign ministry issued a strong warning yesterday against British plans to reopen two cultural offices that were ordered closed by Moscow authorities last month. Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said, in a statement posted by Interfax, that Moscow expects the British side to comply with Russian laws and not reopen the offices. "Any other actions would be provocative and build up bilateral tensions," Kamynin said. Kamynin said that the activities of the British Council have no legal foundation in Russia, and that the drafting of a bilateral agreement on cultural centers "was frozen because of London's destructive steps in Russian-British relations," including the declaration of Russian diplomats as personae non grata and the termination of negotiations on simpler visa formalities at the British initiative. Kamynin was referring to the tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats by both sides following the murder by radiation poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvenenko in London last year.
On Dec. 12, Russian authorities ordered the British Council offices in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg to be closed by Jan. 1; but, according to an Associated Press report, British officials plan to reopen them. "If there is a law we don't comply with, the Russian government has yet to point it out," said Kathryn Board, the head of the British Council's overseas network.
Russia Invited to Participate in U.S. Naval Exercise
Jan. 4 (EIRNS)Russian naval units are expected to join about three dozen warships from 11 countries in the U.S. Navy's Rimpac exercise in Summer 2008. Rimpac, which stands for "Rim of the Pacific," is a naval exercise held about every two years in the waters around Hawaii. Russia participated as an observer in 2006. U.S. military commanders in Hawaii, during a business conference in Honolulu yesterday, spoke of the need for engagement to develop trust and prevent misunderstandings with Russia and other Pacific countries. Adm. Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that Russia's agreement to participate is "great progress if we believe that [military-to-military exchange] is one of the methods of finding common ground with these other navies," reported the Honolulu Advertiser. The exact form of Russia's participation is not yet known, though a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman told the Associated Press that Russia has been participating in planning meetings for the exercise, which is scheduled to take place in July 2008.
Russia Discusses Manned Mission to Mars, New Space Station
Dec. 28 (EIRNS)Russia's Energia Space Corporation is designing a project for a manned mission to the orbit of Mars in 2020-22. The crew will not land on the planet, but will study it using automatic probes, which will be controlled from the orbit. This first mission will prepare a second one, which envisages landings on Mars at a later, preferable position of the red planet with respect to Earth. Russian space technology experts are carrying out a feasibility study of the project to submit to the government.
Anatoly Perminov, director of Russia's national space agency, said a week ago that there is intense discussion about having a new "experimental and engineering space station" in orbit around the Earth, after 2020, to provide a platform for launching manned missions to Mars.
Kiriyenko Outlines 2008 Nuclear Plans
Dec. 31 (EIRNS)Russian nuclear energy agency head Sergei Kiriyenko, in an interview published Dec. 29 on the Russian government website, outlined three major tasks for Russia's nuclear enterprise in 2008: 1) in the military sector, develop promising ideas, and maintain R&D potential; 2) in the civilian sector, increase electricity from nuclear from 26% to 25-30% by 2030; 3) successfully compete in the world market for nuclear technologies. Russia recently was chosen to provide a new nuclear power plant for Bulgariathe first order in an EU country; is building plants in China and India; and is discussing contracts with a dozen other nations.
Velikhov: ITER Fusion Experiment Main Event of 2007
Jan. 2 (EIRNS)Academician Yevgeni Velikhov, scientific advisor to the Russian government, head of the Kurchatov Institute, and long-time innovator in scientific projects, told Itar-Tass that he considers the official beginning of work on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), being built in Cadarache, France, the main event of 2007.
He somewhat modestly added that he "cannot be unbiased," as he has devoted "at least the past 30 years" of his life to the project. He initiated the idea of an international fusion experiment in 1985. During 2007, the ITER council of governors was set up, and its chairman was elected. Velikhov himself was elected as deputy chairman of the ITER Council.
"Work has began on the construction of the reactor itself, which means ideas are being translated into life," Velikhov added. "This is a great thing, as it releases creative energy. Now everybody is sure that the reactor will be built, and creative potentials are being released for different kinds of offers, modernizations, and inventions not only on the reactor, but also on the whole thermonuclear problem," he stressed. Ironically, just as the ITER project is finally getting underway, the Omnibus FY08 budget passed recently eliminated all Department of Energy funding for the U.S. contribution to the ITER program.