|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin Warns of New Global Showdown
May 31 (EIRNS)Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference in Moscow May 31, that tests of new Russian missiles were a response to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense installations and other forces in Europe, suggesting that Washington has triggered a new arms race. He harshly criticized "imperialism" in global affairs, and warned that Russia will strengthen its military potential to maintain a global strategic balance. "We were not the ones who initiated a new round of the arms race," Putin said, just after holding talks with Greek President Karolos Papoulias. Two days earlier, Itar-Tass reported, the Russian President had told another European guest, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, that the deployment of the U.S. missile defense elements in Europe was "turning the continent into a tinderbox,"
Putin described Russia's May 29 test of the new RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of carrying up to ten warheads that can be retargetted during flight, and of a new cruise missile, as part of the Russian response to the planned deployment of new U.S. military bases and missile defense sites in former Soviet satellites in Central and Eastern Europe. He assailed the United States and other NATO members for failing to ratify an amended version of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which limits the deployment of heavy non-nuclear weapons around the continent.
"We have signed and ratified the CFE and are fully implementing it. We have pulled out all our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia to behind the Ural Mountains, and cut our military by 300,000 men," Putin said. "And what about our partners? They are filling Eastern Europe with new weapons. A new base in Bulgaria, another one in Romania, a [missile defense] site in Poland, and a radar in the Czech Republic," he said. "What we are supposed to do? We can't just sit back and look at that." Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly rejected U.S. assurances that the planned missile defense installations are meant to counter a potential threat from nations such as Iran, and pose no danger to Russia. Putin reaffirmed his warning that Russia would opt out of the CFE treaty altogether if NATO nations fail to ratify its amended version.
Putin described the tests of new missiles conducted by Russia on May 29 as a necessary response to the Western action. "There is no reason to fear these actions by Russia; they aren't aggressive. It's merely a response to tough and unfounded unilateral actions by our partners," he said. "These actions are aimed at preserving a global balance. We will keep modernizing our potential," Putin said.
Russian 'New Physical Principles' Missile Defense Is Back
June 1 (EIRNS)The Soviet Union was developing the technology for space-based orbital military systems, from the 1950s up through the late 1980s, and the "concept is still there, and Russia can take it off the shelf anytime," wrote Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov in a two-part commentary titled "New Wars Require New Weapons," published May 24 and 31. Kislyakov reviewed the history of Soviet anti-missile defense. He wrote that space-based assault weapons include ICBMs placed in a "staging orbit," anti-satellite missiles, directed-energy weapons, and electronic weapons. Such weapons "allow comprehensive control over the Earth's surface. The appearance of permanent manned military stations in near-Earth orbit is only a matter of time." While space stations will not be developed in the near future, "automatic systems equipped with weapons based on new physical principles" will be. There is evidence, Kislyakov wrote, "that a system has already been sent into space equipped with missiles and lasers capable of destroying satellites in low, medium, and stationary orbits."
He reviewed the political infighting in the Soviet Union over development of these systems, including the roles of Nikita Khrushchov, Yuri Andropov (who was the greatest opponent of the Strategic Defense Initiative proposed by Lyndon LaRouche and adopted by President Ronald Reagan in 1983), and Mikhail Gorbachov.
In 1957, when the Soviets successfully launched their ICBM and first man-made satellite, the military was actually "concentrated on launching a new fundamental anti-satellite project and developing an anti-missile defense." The ABM was the first to appear, from a project led by Grigory Kisunko, who initiated the concept of "triangulation" to coordinate ballistic targets and interceptor missiles. But the ABM systems were pushed aside, because of the development of the anti-satellite program, led by Vladimir Chelomey. When the U.S. U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, the Soviets assumed that the United States would rely on spy satellites, and Chelomey urged the government of Khrushchov to abandon the ABM project. Khrushchov, Kislyakov wrote, "was an impulsive leader. His actions repeatedly brought the world to the brink of war and his homeland to the verge of economic collapse."
Despite this, the Soviets continued to develop both killer-satellites and an ABM systemunfortunately, separately. Moscow also "set itself the aim of developing an unparalleled combat space station with anti-satellite lasers. In August 1983, then-Soviet leader Yuri Andropov made a sensational announcement that the country was stopping all work on space-based weapons. But the Salyut design bureau continued working in great secrecy on a military space station code-named Skif." There was an attempt to launch a combat-ready model of the Skif in May 1987, but the launch failed. "After this setback, Mikhail Gorbachov, architect of perestroika, decided to give up on the Skif," Kislyakov wrote. "However, the concept of orbital military systems is still there, and Russia can take it off the shelf anytime."
Lugovoy: British MI6 Behind Litvinenko Murder
May 31 (EIRNS)Andrei Lugovoy, wanted in Britain in connection with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, said at a Moscow press conference today that London exile Boris Berezovsky was the likely murderer, and that he had proof of British Intelligence involvement in the murder, according to RIA Novosti and Reuters. Lugovoy said that both Litvinenko and Berezovsky worked for MI6 (British foreign intelligence). Of the three hypotheses on who killed Litvinenko: MI6, Russian mafia, and BerezovskyLugovoy said, "The third theory looks the most likely to me. I am talking about Boris Berezovsky, who is well known as an outstanding master of political intrigues." Novosti added that he said he could prove the British secret services' involvement.
"I am very serious about what I am saying, including these accusations," Lugovoy said. Lugovoy said he, himself, had been asked to become a British agent, too. "The British basically proposed that I collect any materials to discredit [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and his family," Lugovoy said, according to Novosti. "Today I would like to make an announcement, which should shed some light on this dark political story, where the main roles were played by the British secret service and their agents Berezovsky and the late Litvinenko." He quoted Litvinenko telling him that he had been the first to be recruited by the British secret services.
"I cannot get away from the thought that Litvinenko was an agent who had gone out of control and they [MI6] got rid of him," Lugovoy said, according to Reuters. Asked whether he had firm proof of British intelligence involvement in the murder, Lugovoy defiantly replied: "Yes!" Lugovoy also alleged that Litvinenko had obtained compromising material which could jeopardize Berezovsky's political refugee status, and claimed that this could have provided a motive for his murder.
Election Schedule Deal Cools Ukraine Crisis
May 27 (EIRNS)An agreement reached between Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych early this morning narrowly averted the outbreak of open clashes between divided security forces, loyal to each of the two political figures. They decided to hold new parliamentary elections in September, rather than a snap election as decreed by Yushchenko. The crisis had intensified towards civil war dimensions on May 25, as Yushchenko ordered Internal Affairs Ministry troops to be transferred to his personal command. When the Interior Minister refused, Yushchenko ordered the troops into the capital of Kiev. According to news wire reports, police forces stopped the troops, under a government (Prime Minister's) order to stop the deployment.
While Yushchenko said May 27 that "the political crisis in Ukraine is over," the continuing push from London and from Dick Cheney's circles in the U.S. for confrontation with Russia portends further destabilizing pressure on Ukraine from the West.
NK-Russia Rail Link To Help Complete Land-Bridge
May 28 (EIRNS)North Korea and Russia have signed a memorandum of intention on the reconstruction of a railway section, from the Russian border station Hasan to the North Korean port of Rajin, a Russian radio station reported May 27. The rail connection is central to the revived Tumen River Project, involving North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, China, and Japan. It will also facilitate a future link from the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Trans-Korean Railway (TKR), which connects North and South Korea, finally opened this month after 50 years). In late April, representatives of the Russian Railways (RZD) and North Korea's Ministry of Railways signed the deal at the end of the four-day talks held in Pyongyang, Voice of Russia said. The Russian delegation was headed by Alexei Mersiyanov, an RZD vice president for economic activities, while Deputy Railways Minister Kim Chol led the North Korean delegation.