|Russia and the CIS News Digest
BRIC Leaders Meet on G8 Sidelines
July 10 (EIRNS)Meeting yesterday on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Japan, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tajikistan in August, as well as their later one at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru in November.
Medvedev also had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, and the leaders of Russia, India, and China ("RIC") met jointly with Brazilian President Luis Ignacio da Silva in the so-called BRIC format. A Kremlin statement said that at this first-ever summit meeting, the BRIC leaders agreed "to continue coordinating on the most pressing economic problems of our time, including joint action in the financial area, and solutions to the food problem."
Medvedev Reports Back on Key Discussions of G8 Summit
July 10 (EIRNS)At his post-Group of Eight summit press conference in Japan yesterday, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev cited the state of the world economy and skyrocketing food prices as the most important matters discussed. He expressed satisfaction that "our initiatives for holding meetings of agriculture ministers and eventually a 'grain summit' have been approved."
Medvedev also called for "massive" expansion of nuclear energy, according to the Kremlin transcript. In his words, "Existing sources of energy could be seriously augmented by multifaceted and massive use of nuclear energy. Russia and some other states, including members of the G8, have such opportunities." The Russian President noted that nuclear power is environmentally clean, and a good area for cooperation.
Medvedev reiterated his criticism of using foodstuffs or cropland for biofuels production as unacceptable.
In Moscow, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Federal Financial Markets Service head V.D. Milovidov, one of their discussion topics being the build-up of international, ruble-denominated financial operations in Moscowan objective Medvedev is also citing continuouslyand how to orient them to generating financing for the real economy, as opposed to merely attracting speculators.
Medvedev Details Food Initiative
July 8 (EIRNS)Answering questions today after closed-door discussions among the Group of Eight heads of state and government at their summit in Japan, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev focussed on the world financial crisis, food, and energy security. He said that specific Russian proposals on the food crisis, for a committee of G8 agriculture ministers and a "grain summit," had "met with support."
Medvedev said that the entire food production system in the world has to be reconsidered. "In that connection we made two new proposals. One of them involves the need for the emergence of a new format within the G8in which the agriculture ministers of the G8 nations take part. This proposal was supported. And the holding of a special session, like a summit on grain questions, a so-called grain summit, where the causes of the grain price rises would be discussed, as well as possible ways to stabilize the situation in this area."
Medvedev attacked rampant expansion of biofuels production, for cutting the food supply. He noted that other people tend to blame consumption in China and India. (In his St. Petersburg Forum speech in June, Medvedev hit financial speculation as driving food prices up.) According to the Russian business daily Vzglyad of July 9, while Medvedev was speaking in Japan, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said at a press conference back home, that Russia intends to increase grain production by 150% in the next 5-7 years.
The G8 Global Food Security statement does instruct the member countries' ministers of agriculture to hold "a meeting to contribute to developing sound proposals on global food security."
As on several recent occasions, Medvedev said that "the existing architecture of economic relations among the main participants is inadequate," and the current crisis shows that "it is necessary to think about what the international financial system ought to look like in the years ahead.... We ought to think, first and foremost, about what the architecture of international economic relations will look like, since what exists today suits practically nobody."
Medvedev: U.S.A. 'Half-Hearted' in Missile Defense Talks
July 10 (EIRNS)"We find this situation extremely saddening," Russian President Medvedev said at his post-G8 press conference yesterday, the day after the signing of a U.S.-Czech deal for emplacement of anti-missile radars in the Czech Republic. The Russian Foreign Ministry officially denounced the move on July 8, charging that Russia's alternative, of building collective defensesproposed a year ago by then-President Putin in talks with President George Bush at Kennebunkporthad been "essentially ignored." Said Medvedev, "The negotiations they have been conducting with us are half-hearted and they have brought no results. Instead, they go ahead with signing agreements on the issue.... Of course, we are not going to become hysterical over the issue, but we will think about our response."
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, who heads the Russian ABM negotiating team, said today that U.S. officials have failed to demonstrate that the anti-missile systems are not directed at compromising Russia's nuclear deterrent. The words of Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin were harsher, according to a Novosti report, as he said that "the hoary old arguments that the ABM system is aimed not against us, but against the bad guys in Iran, are unconvincing and annoy the Russian negotiators." Rogozin added, "These are stupid weapons. Their technical efficacy could only be tested under nuclear war conditions, which I hope won't ever happen."
Analyst Sergei Markov, a member of the public chamber and close to the Foreign Ministry, yesterday expressed concern that Europeans were discounting Russia's warnings that it will take countermeasures.
Gen. Leonid Ivashov, former top Defense Ministry official and now head of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said yesterday, "We must have a plan, adopted by the Russian Security Council, setting out measures on the economic, political, and military cooperation levels." He told RIA Novosti, "On the political level, we must suspend our cooperation with NATO, because it brings us nothing but harm." As an alternative, he suggested that Russia start negotiations with China, India, and other countries to form a global alliance against the U.S. missile shield in Europe. "A relevant decision must be made, at least in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization," Ivashov said. The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Russia Charges Georgia With Preparing Ground Fighting
July 10 (EIRNS)The Russian Foreign Ministry tonight announced that a Russian Air Force plane had flown over South Ossetia, an autonomous province in Georgia, July 8, for the purpose of "cooling hot heads" in Tbilisi. Georgian armed forces, the Russians charged, had been about to invade South Ossetia on the pretext of freeing four servicemen, detained by South Ossetian police.
In response, Georgia today recalled its ambassador from Moscow.
Tension is rising around both South Ossetia and Georgia's other northern border autonomous region, Abkhazia. Georgia has accused Moscow of masterminding a series of explosions inside Abkhazia. The European Union, as well as Michael Saakashvili's Georgian government, are pushing to oust Russian peacekeepers from Abkhazia.
Yesterday, while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Saakashvili in Tbilisi, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, charging that Saakashvili's regime was deliberately fanning tension in the two regions, and that the U.S. State Department was "covering for the provocateurs and blaming Moscow for everything," which it said merely served "to reinforce the Georgian leadership's conviction that it can do whatever it wants."
Britain Calls Russia Its Third-Biggest Threat
July 8 (EIRNS)British intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia is the third-biggest threat facing the U.K. after al-Qaeda and Iran. The security services, according to the July 4 London Times, fear that Russia's three main intelligence agencies have flooded Britain with agents, and that there is deep irritation within the services that vital resources have to be diverted to deal with industrial and military espionage by the Russians.
The Times report was followed today by a BBC story, claiming that Britain has evidence of Russian government responsibility for the killing of Alexander Litvinenko in London, at the end of 2006.
Vitrenko Charges Government Violence Against Ukraine Demonstrations
July 8 (EIRNS)Natalia Vitrenko, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, charged yesterday that Ukrainian Internal Affairs Ministry personnel had "brutally beaten participants in the anti-NATO encampment" in Odessa. Reports and photos distributed by the PSPU show police, as well as leather-jacketed skinheads, dismantling the demonstrators' tent city and beating them with clubs. Dozens of people, including members of the Odessa City Council, were taken to the hospital, according to the PSPU.
The Odessa demonstration was coordinated with ongoing actions by the PSPU, the Ukrainian Communist Party, and other organizations, against NATO's Sea Breeze naval maneuvers, staged from the Crimean Peninsula. It is the third year of such protests, which, in 2006, caused the NATO maneuvers to be scaled back. On July 5, there were violent clashes between PSPU demonstrators and Ukrainian military personnel in Sevastopol, Crimea. A pro-NATO Ukrainian group called Svoboda is calling on President Victor Yushchenko to declare a state of emergency in Crimea and jail Vitrenko and others as provocateurs. Tensions are running high in Crimea, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet shares basing facilities at Sevastopolat least till 2017, when Yushchenko says the lease will not be renewed.