Bush, Putin seen headed for trouble over missiles

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Wed Jan 10 00:06:07 MST 2001


Comrades, before you read this I have a couple of questions for any who care to
answer me. I agree and have noticed this basic thrust of the Putin administration
that the article is referring to. It is quite true that Russia is carving a new role,
somewhere in between the USSR and the Yeltsinites, on the global stage. Two
questions, obviously related, come to my mind: How serious is the new "anti-Western"
sentiment of the Putin regime, but the more important question I have is upon who
does the regime draw for support in the new path? If Russia is not going to be the
same "yessir, how high?" regime, where is the power base going to arise from? There
is almost no Russian bourgeoisie to speak of, really.

I am somewhat apt to believe that Russia wants to talk tough at home, while egging on
the West in behind the microphones- - but the arms sales to Iran, etc. *are* a
challenge to the US. After I see this, I only ask myself "why?".

No one should doubt that the Russian Federation is being set up for something new-
and it would seem that the US needs an enemy so badly, it is proposing that Russia
might be it. Yet why is Putin going for this?

Macdonald    (Article follows)
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Globe and Mail, Monday, January  8, 2001

Bush, Putin seen headed for trouble over missiles

By Geoffrey York


MOSCOW -- A dispute over short-range nuclear weapons is the latest sign of trouble
looming between the two new administrations in Moscow and Washington.
The Kremlin is angrily denying U.S. allegations that it has moved tactical nuclear
missiles onto its military bases in Kaliningrad, a key Russian outpost on the edge of
central Europe, within range of targets in Poland and the Baltic states.

The Pentagon, refusing to back down from its charges, says the move is just the
latest
example of a "disturbing trend" of sabre-rattling by the Russian military.

The dispute could foreshadow fresh tensions between the two nuclear superpowers and
their new presidents: Vladimir Putin, who was officially inaugurated in May, and
George W. Bush, who will be sworn in to office on Jan. 20.

Mr. Putin has been increasingly assertive on the world stage. He has courted the
leaders of foreign regimes on the U.S. black list, and allowed his military to
simulate combat with American targets.

    He also has approved a military doctrine that identifies Washington as a possible
threat, and defied U.S. demands to outlaw weapons sales to Iran.

Still, the Russian leader is putting a good face on maintaining good relations with
Washington and is reportedly hoping to visit the United States this spring for a
summit with Mr. Bush.

"My analysis of modern history shows that when Republicans were heading the U.S.
administration, even U.S.-Soviet relations were not harmed," Mr. Putin told Russian
journalists recently. "We have always been able to find a common language with the
Republicans."

At the same time, he emphasized that Moscow cannot return to the optimistic days of
the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"Ten years ago we decided, for some reason, that everyone heartily loves us," Mr.
Putin said. "But this turned out to be wrong. We have to . . . clearly understand our
national interests, spell them out and fight for them."

Mr. Bush, meanwhile, has appointed a cabinet filled with right-wing hawks who
advocate
a tougher line on Russia. Several of his cabinet nominees and senior advisers
vigorously support a proposed nuclear-missile defence shield, despite Moscow's fierce
opposition, and their rhetoric often sharply criticizes Russia.

"Moscow is determined to assert itself in the world and often does so in ways that
are
at once haphazard and threatening to American interests," Mr. Bush's national
security
adviser, Condoleezza Rice, wrote in a recent article.

Portraying Russia as a threat to the independence of its smaller neighbours, Ms. Rice
wants Washington to strengthen those states to protect them from Moscow's
interference. She has condemned the outgoing Clinton administration for its
"romantic"
policy toward Moscow. And she has criticized Russia for its corruption, its war
against Chechnya, its links to U.S. enemies and the aggressiveness of its military.

"The Russian military has been uncharacteristically blunt and vocal in asserting its
duty to defend the integrity of the Russian Federation -- an unwelcome development .
.
.," she wrote in the article published in a Chicago newspaper.

Mr. Bush has been highly critical of Russia. During the election campaign, he
demanded
a halt of all loans to Moscow as long as it is waging war in Chechnya. He denounced
Russian corruption and accused former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin of stealing
money from Western loans to Russia. When Mr. Chernomyrdin demanded an apology, he
refused.

If the Bush cabinet continues this tough stand, it will further complicate an already
fragile relationship.

Washington is already worried by Russia's moves toward closer political links with
Iran, Iraq, Libya and Cuba. It has criticized Moscow for using coercive pressure
tactics against pro-Western neighbours such as Georgia. It has warned that the
Kremlin
jeopardized press freedom by arresting the media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky. And it
condemned the espionage conviction of American businessman Edmond Pope, whom Mr.
Putin
later pardoned.

The United States has also threatened to impose sanctions on Moscow for abandoning
its
agreement to stop selling battlefield weapons to Iran. Washington said it was
"particularly disturbed" by reports that the Kremlin is ready to sell missiles,
helicopters and fighter jets to Iran. These sales would "pose a serious threat" to
security interests of the United States and its allies, a State Department spokesman
said.

Russia has its own long list of bitter grievances, a list that seems to be
lengthening.

Tensions have been rising because of the U.S.-led expansion of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization and the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, both of which
triggered anger among Russians.

Some Russian officials also blamed a U.S. or British submarine for the explosion that
destroyed the Kursk nuclear submarine in August, killing 118 crew members.

Along with the dustup over whether nuclear weapons had been shifted to Kaliningrad,
another arms-control dispute is simmering. Last week, Russia accused Washington of
violating the START-1 treaty by destroying only the first stage of its MX
intercontinental ballistic missiles, preserving the second and third stages for
possible future use as medium-range missiles.

But the Kremlin's biggest complaint today is the U.S. plan for a missile defence
shield, which would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

President Bill Clinton delayed a decision on the missile shield last year, but Mr.
Bush's cabinet lineup suggests that his campaign pledge to bring in a "robust"
missile-defence system will be kept.

Indeed, Donald Rumsfeld, the designated secretary of defence, wrote an influential
1998 report that urged deployment of the missile shield, despite Russian concerns.
And
in nominating Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush made a special point of praising his views on
the
$60-billion (U.S.) antimissile plan. Many analysts see his appointment as proof that
the plan is a virtual certainty, no matter how much Russia and other countries
object.


-------------------------------------------
Macdonald Stainsby

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