Friday, November 10, 2006

Putin Hints to GRU that U.S. Is Threat

From RFE/RL’s Newsline (November 9 2006):

PUTIN HINTS TO GRU THAT U.S. IS THREAT

President Vladimir Putin visited the new headquarters of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Armed Forces General Staff in Moscow on November 8, news.ru reported. The daily “Nezavisimaya gazeta” noted ironically the following day that the event was “shrouded in…secrecy…in the best traditions of the intelligence department.” Putin suggested to GRU staff that the United States poses a threat to Russia, saying that “the practice by a number of states of taking unilateral illegitimate action seriously undermines [international] stability.” He added that “this also goes for their attempts to push their positions unceremoniously, fully ignoring the lawful interests of other partners.” Lest there be any doubts as to which country he had in mind, he noted that “a number of states are striving to free their hands so they can deploy weapons in space, including the nuclear weapon.” He told GRU department heads that “it is important to define correctly the development of the military-political situation, to follow in detail trends of technological, economic competition.” For his part, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov praised the new GRU headquarters as using the most up-to-date equipment in a way that is unique in Russia. PM

RUSSIAN MEDIA FORESEE MORE ‘COMPLEX’ RELATIONSHIP AFTER U.S. ELECTIONS

Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on November 8 in Moscow that the U.S. mid-term elections the previous day amounted to a “no-confidence vote” in the Republican administration of President George W. Bush, Russian news agencies reported. Kosachyov added that the United States “will enter…a new stage in its development…from cooperation between the administration and the Republican majority in Congress to rivalry” between the White House and a Congress controlled by the Democrats. He also suggested that U.S.-Russian trade relations might become more difficult, the daily “Vremya novostei” reported on November 9. For its part, the daily “Izvestia” wrote that U.S. voters sent Bush the message that they have become disillusioned with the war in Iraq and regard it as “senseless.” The daily “Vedomosti” predicted that the impact of the vote on U.S.-Russian relations will be minimal. The paper argued that the two countries are not significant trading partners, so there is no important economic relationship to affect one way or another. It suggested, however, that negotiations leading to Russian membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) could now become more “complex” unless Bush and President Putin reach a deal soon (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” October 31, 2006). On a broader level, the paper suggested that the Democrats might bring about unspecified changes in U.S. policies in the Middle East that could lead to a change in the price of oil, which is currently very advantageous to Russia. PM

WILL HUMAN RIGHTS PLAY GREATER ROLE IN BILATERAL RELATIONS?

The daily “Vedomosti” argued on November 9 that the Democrats are more likely than the Republicans to take a tough line with Moscow over human rights. “Novye izvestia” wrote that U.S. voters would not have turned against the Republicans had they not been convinced by their media that the war in Iraq is going very badly. The paper also noted that the new chairman of the House International Relations Committee will be Congressman Tom Lantos (Democrat, California), who is “one of the strongest critics of Russia” in that body. The daily “Kommersant” also drew attention to Lantos, whom it called “one of the American establishment’s harshest and most irreconcilable critics of the Kremlin.” The paper pointed out that Lantos is a staunch defender of human rights and has referred to imprisoned oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a “political prisoner.” Elsewhere, Sergei Rogov, who heads the U.S. and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RIA Novosti on November 9 that there will be no fundamental change in relations because both the Democrats and Republicans have an “extremely negative” view of Russian foreign and domestic policies. PM
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