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Thread: New U.S. Headache: A Resurgent Russia

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    New U.S. Headache: A Resurgent Russia

    New U.S. headache: a resurgent Russia
    Relations between Washington and the Kremlin have hit a post- Cold War low as Russia tries to leverage its new wealth and power and the U.S. struggles with crises.


    WASHINGTON -- On the eve of next week's G-8 summit meeting, relations between the United States and Russia have ebbed to their lowest level since the Cold War, fueled by Moscow's growing confidence and an apparent Russian perception of U.S. weakness.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to American plans for a European-based missile-defense system by testing a new intercontinental missile, publicly blasted a U.S.-backed initiative to give independence to the Serbian province of Kosovo and frustrated American diplomatic initiatives on several fronts.

    Putin, alluding to U.S. "imperialism," said Thursday that the missile test was a response to the Bush administration's plans to put a missile-defense radar and 10 interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    "We are not the initiators of this new round of the arms race," Putin told a Kremlin news conference.

    "Our partners are stuffing Eastern Europe with new weapons," he said. ''What are we supposed to do? We cannot just observe all this."

    While the Russian leader is a former KGB officer and his rhetoric echoed of the Cold War, U.S. officials and analysts don't expect a return to U.S.-Russian military confrontation. But the disputes appear certain to cloud the summit of the Group of Eight leaders in Germany, in which President Bush and Putin will participate. Moreover, Russia's assertive posture poses new international headaches for Bush as his administration struggles to deal with intractable crises.

    Last month Putin appeared to compare the United States to Nazi Germany, surprising and dismaying top Bush aides.

    "We want a 21st-century partnership with Russia, but at times, Russia seems to think and act in the zero-sum terms of another era," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday in Europe, where she tangled with her Russian counterpart on missile defenses and Kosovo.

    In an attempt to repair the damage, Bush issued an unusual invitation to Putin this week to join him for two days of talks in early July at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

    "There's an effort to walk back from the brink on both sides," said a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Still, he acknowledged, ''We're not going to get past the flash points so easily, because they reflect real differences."

    The White House shows no signs of backing down on the missile-defense plan, which Russia regards as a major new intrusion by the West toward its borders. Bush will bookend the G-8 summit with stops in the Czech Republic and Poland.

    Kosovo is an emotional issue in Russia, which has strong ties to Serbia, a fellow Slavic nation. Russia's U.N. ambassador hinted Thursday that Moscow is ready to veto a U.N. independence plan for the province, which has been under international protection since 1999.

    Russia's confidence, based in part on its burgeoning oil wealth, and its apparent calculation of U.S. weakness due to the Iraq War are further hurdles to repairing relations.

    "The truth is that people notice when Gulliver is tied down," said Daniel Serwer, a former U.S. diplomat who's now with the U.S. Institute for Peace. ''[The Russians] have got bundles of money rolling in and they've got their historical adversary bogged down in Iraq."

    The Russians "are back," said a second State Department official. "And a lot of this has to do with a flexing of muscles that come with power. It's a different kind of power" than the Soviet Union's. ''They're wealthy."

    William Douglas contributed to this article.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Rice, Putin Trade Cold War Words
    Rhetoric Includes 'Zero-Sum,' 'Arms Race'

    By Glenn Kessler
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, June 1, 2007; Page A12

    BERLIN, May 31 -- Russia and the United States sparred yet again Thursday, continuing a war of words that has raised tensions across the Atlantic.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, accepting an award for her contributions to German unification more than a decade and a half ago, accused Russia of being stuck in the Cold War era. "We want a 21st-century partnership with Russia, but at times, Russia seems to think and act in the zero-sum terms of another era," Rice said in a speech in Potsdam.

    Rice also knocked the decline of civil society in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. "Democratic institutions and an open society are not a source of weakness," Rice said. "Nor is freedom of speech and freedom of the press just a nuisance."

    Putin, who is to meet with President Bush at Kennebunkport, Maine, in July, accused the United States of "imperialism" during a news conference in Moscow. "It wasn't us who initiated a new round of arms race," Putin said, referring to U.S. plans to install a missile defense shield in Europe and Russia's missile tests Tuesday in apparent response.

    Rice, in her speech, asserted: "We find Russia's recent missile diplomacy difficult to understand, and we regret Russia's reluctance to accept the partnership in missile defense that we have offered."

    "There is no need to fear Russia's actions; they are not aggressive," Putin said. "They are a mere response to harsh and groundless unilateral actions by our partners and are aimed at maintaining the balance of forces in the world."

    The disputes between Russia and the United States have colored other diplomatic efforts, such as concerns over Iran's nuclear program and the future of Kosovo.

    Rice, who spent most of the day in Vienna, said Thursday that the United States would not alter its demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment before she would join talks on its nuclear program. Her statement came exactly a year after she first made the offer in a dramatic gambit to halt Tehran's push to obtain nuclear expertise.

    "It is time for Iran to change its tactics," Rice said at a news conference with Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, speaking ahead of talks Thursday in Madrid between Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. The two men have met repeatedly over the past year in an effort to find a formula to break the impasse, but to little avail.

    Since Rice first made her offer, Iran has shrugged off two U.N. Security Council resolutions mandating limited sanctions. After the talks in Madrid, Larijani and Solana told reporters they would meet again in two weeks. "Sometimes we are not able to move the process as we like, but in any case the atmosphere continues to be very positive," Solana told reporters afterward.

    In the enrichment process, uranium is rapidly spun in centrifuges. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported last week that during the diplomatic standoff, Iran has significantly accelerated its enrichment capability and is now operating 1,312 centrifuges, more than four times the total number four months ago.

    IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei recently suggested that the time had come to accept some Iranian enrichment in an effort to win greater Iranian cooperation on inspections and limits on its program. The United States and its European partners have rejected the idea.

    The Larijani-Solana meeting is the second the two men have held in a little over a month and comes just after Iran failed to meet a 60-day deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for suspending its program. On behalf of the United States, France, Britain and Germany, Solana has been instructed to consider even a month-long suspension, but few officials expect a breakthrough.

    Before the talks began, Larijani told reporters that suspending enrichment was "not a logical way" to resolve the nuclear issue.

    Rice flew to Vienna from Berlin to attend a meeting of senior female foreign policy officials to discuss ways to empower women in the Middle East and to address a session of the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She then returned to Berlin to receive the award.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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