|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Foreign Ministry: Russian-U.S. Relations Could Evaporate in Global Crisis
Aug. 1 (EIRNS)On July 30, a high-ranking Russian Foreign Ministry official addressed two dozen reporters, summoned to the ministry in Moscow for a background briefing, in nearly apocalyptic terms about the state of U.S.-Russian relations, and the very survival of the United States in the current global crisis. The briefing was of broad strategic significance. While obviously timed as a response to Presidential candidate John McCain's latest statement of his view that Russia should not be a member of the Group of Eight, it also occurred just hours after career diplomat Sergei Kislyak was named Ambassador to the U.S.A. As a deputy foreign minister, Kislyak has handled the Iran nuclear program dossier, as well as follow-up to former President Vladimir Putin's joint nuclear missile defense initiative, discussed between Putin and President George Bush at Kennebunkport a year ago, but mostly dead in the water since then, due to U.S. stonewalling.
The reported briefing also reflected, Lyndon LaRouche observed, an inevitable Moscow response to events surrounding arrest of Bosnia Serb figure Radovan Karadzic and his transfer to The Hague for trial: the prospect of a new Balkan war.
The Foreign Ministry official raised the prospect of a complete breakdown of U.S.-Russian relations. He also attacked the United States for selfishness at a moment of existential crisis for humanity, while warning that the U.S.A. itself is on the brink of collapse.
No transcript was released, but direct quotations appeared in widespread coverage in the Russian media. According to the daily Izvestia of July 31, the official warned that the United States faces "a full-fledged crisis of existence." He said that the U.S.A. is on a pathway of sharp, painful changes, which it will survive only by "living within its means." America "needs to be reborn," he said. The official attacked U.S. levels of consumption, "now, when the physical survival of humanity is at stake," while warning of a flight from U.S. government bonds. According to Izvestia's paraphrase, he commented that "8% of U.S. GDP ($1 trillion) is provided by borrowing. And that is two-thirds of all available cash resources, which could be directed toward solving global problems like poverty. Yet, the U.S.A. is not willing to spend even to solve its own problem of energy dependency."
Said the official, according to Izvestia, "At our expense, Americas military is being built up, including the war in Iraq. Nobody yet believes that the U.S.A. will default on its state debt, but when that happens, there will begin a flight out of bonds issued with U.S. government guarantees."
Talking about Russia's just-issued Foreign Policy Conception, which President Dmitri Medvedev approved in July, the official said, "Unlike the 2000 Conception, it contains no euphoria, fears, or illusions; our Western partners have disabused us of those. It has no exaggerated expectations, but rather contains a positive agenda, which we proposed to our partners on the basis of full equality and mutual benefit." If there are countries that don't want this, he added, "We can allow ourselves not to have any relations at all with those who don't want it." Stating that Russia is prepared for any way in which events might develop, the diplomat said that if the U.S.A. keeps pushing to be a sole superpower, "the time will come, when we cease to conduct a dialogue on essential questions of interest to the United States." He cited U.S. postures vis-à-vis Iran, and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Concerning what he called U.S. objections to now Prime Minister Putin's continuing to have a role in foreign policy, the official said that the role of the prime minister in foreign policy is officially enshrined in the new foreign policy guidelines, and that "as head of the government, Putin may become even more influential in Russian foreign policy, since he is dealing with the reality of what Russia will be in the next five to ten years."
These dramatic statements have gone almost unreported in the U.S.A., except for a short item in the Wall Street Journal, and the reprinting of English-language Russian wire dispatches in Johnson's Russia List, an e-mail circular read by Russia-watchers.
Russian Navy Prioritizes Construction of Nuclear Submarines
July 26 (EIRNS)Russian Navy Commander in Chief Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said that construction of new-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarines is a top priority for the Russian Navy's development, reported RIA Novosti yesterday. According to a new doctrine for the development of the Armed Forces, Russia will completely modernize the naval component of its nuclear triad by 2016.
Vysotsky said that fourth-generation Borey-class nuclear-powered submarines armed with Bulava missiles (with ten nuclear warheads and a range of 8,000 km) would form the core of Russia's fleet of modern strategic submarines. The first unit of the series has been built and is to go into service in the near future, while two more are under construction near Arkhangelsk. In 2009, the Russian Navy will also receive the first nuclear-powered attack submarine of the Project 885 Yasen class, the first Russian multipurpose sub that can launch a variety of long-range nuclear missiles and engage hostile submarines and surface warships.
In addition to nuclear submarines, Russia is building several new-generation Project 677 Lada-class diesel-electric subs. The submarine, whose export version is known as the Amur 1650, features a new anti-sonar coating for the hull, an extended cruising range, and advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry.
Russia To Create 'Nuclear University'
Aug. 1 (EIRNS)Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian state nuclear power corporation Rosatom, announced today that the Russian Federation will adopt a program for creation of a national "nuclear university" at the beginning of next year. It will combine the capacities of six universities and 23 technical schools, in a nationwide network centered on the Moscow Institute of Physical Engineering. According to Kiriyenko, the program must be nationwide, encompassing major existing nuclear-industry facilities and closed cities (classified labs), because Russia intends to train 10,000 specialists annually: 2,000 with higher education, and 8,000 skilled technical personnel. "Our schedule is tight," Kiriyenko said, according to the Rosbalt information agency, "All of the decisions need to be taken by the end of this year."
Kiriyenko's announcement came two days after he and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addressed a national conference on development of the nuclear power industry, held in Electrostal. Putin said that the schedule for doubling nuclear power output by 2030 starts with building 26 new nuclear power units within the next 12 years. With the aging of the Soviet-era skilled nuclear work force, the educational program is an obvious necessity.
City of London Press Flips Over Russian Grain Trading Plan
Aug. 1 (EIRNS)The Financial Times of London ran a front-page headline today, "Moscow To Seize Grain Export Controls." The story cited "diplomats and agricultural industry officials" as the source for what was actually quite publicly announced by Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev: The Russian government is going to set up a state grain corporation. It will be based on the existing Food Market Regulation Agency. According to the Russian business news agency RBC, the organization will interact with 28 grain-processing, storage, and shipping companies that are partially state-owned. By 2011, it is to control 40-50% of Russian grain exports.
Currently, six companies dominate 60% of Russia's grain exports, and the largest of them is MZK, a subsidiary of Glencore (formerly known as Marc Rich & Co. AG). Russia is exporting 15 million tons of its 80 million tons of grain produced this year. Among its main customers are Egypt, India, and Morocco.
The Financial Times raised the specter of the state agency taking over private interests, and compared the action to the tyranny of Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly. There is said to be an internal report on the plan circulating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Free-market fanatics scream that such a move will increase pressure on world market pricesbut also on the world's nations to go their independent way to food security.
Russia-Ukraine-Belarus Ministers Consult on Agrarian Union
Aug. 1 (EIRNS)Meeting today in the Dnepropetrovsk Region of Ukraine, Agriculture Ministers S. Shapiro of Belarus, Alexei Gordeyev of Russia, and Yuri Melnik of Ukraine called for creating an "agrarian union" of the three countries, reports the Krestyanskiye Vedomosti agricultural news wire. The ministers discussed technology-sharing and scientific exchange. Gordeyev said that such cooperation could lower imports from elsewhere, raising food security for all three countries. The report said that Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has supported the initiative.