From Volume 7, Issue 46 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 11, 2008
Russia and the CIS News Digest

Medvedev on Financial and Strategic Crisis

Nov. 5 (EIRNS)—Russian President Dmitri Medvedev today delivered his first annual Presidential Message to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. The speech was revealing of the Russian leadership's view of its role in the world and the current strategic crisis, as well as the shortcomings thereof. In the passionate language of a Russian patriot, blunted by his lawyerly confidence in the effectiveness of procedural changes, Medvedev expressed a determination that Russia will survive the current crisis, but—at least as far as expressed in this speech—he made too much obeisance to a global system that has utterly failed, for that determination to be successful. Medvedev stated that Russia has prepared its proposals for the Nov. 15 Group of 20 nations summit in Washington, on the international financial crisis, and has submitted them to other participants. He revealed their content only in part.

Striking in how Medvedev framed his report, was the evidence that Russia has by no means forgotten the U.S.- and British-backed attack on South Ossetia, and Russian peacekeepers, by Georgia last Summer. Medvedev tied together that "barbaric aggression" with the global financial crisis, as the two great events of 2008, from which lessons must be drawn. Citing the arrival of NATO ships in the Black Sea and the go-ahead for U.S. ABM systems in Eastern Europe, after the Ossetia crisis, Medvedev said that these events had increased tensions far beyond the borders of that region, throughout Europe, and in the whole world. In effect, this destabilized the very basis of the global order. He spelled out Russian countermeasures, announcing that he had rescinded the order to scale back and dismantle three strategic missile regiments of a division deployed at Kozelsk (in Kaluga Region, southwest of Moscow). He confirmed that Iskander surface-to-air missile will be deployed in the Kaliningrad Region, between Lithuania and Poland, "to neutralize the [U.S.] ABM systems if necessary," and added that submarine-launched ballistic missiles in the Baltic can play a similar role.

Medvedev called for radical reform of the international political and economic system. He said that Russia is prepared to work with the U.S.A., the EU, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, and others to achieve this. Russia will take leadership, he said, based on its being a nation with a thousand-year history, which assimilated and civilized a huge territory. By the same token, Russia does not intend to be pushed around, he said, specifying that there will be "no retreat in the Caucasus."

The bulk of Medvedev's speech was devoted to governmental and related procedural reforms, aimed at defeating corruption and increasing representative democracy. When he returned to the topic of the economy, Medvedev outlined a range of measures to promote innovation, technology, and science-based progress. This would include several programs for promoting science education and developing skilled personnel.

On foreign policy, Medvedev said that the attacks on Georgia had marked "a moment of truth," the formation a qualitatively new geopolitical situation. It was in this context that he listed Russia's intended military response to the U.S. ABM deployment. He said that Russia will rely chiefly on its relations with the Union State (Russia and Belarus), EurAsEc (Russia, Belarus, and four Central Asian countries), and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO—consisting of the same nations, plus Armenia). He called for bolstering the role of the United Nations and making it more effective. Medvedev also said that relations with the United States will be crucial in the area of arms control, taking the opportunity to add, "I emphasize that we do not have problems with the American people, and we have no ingrained anti-Americanism. We hope that our partners, the new U.S. administration, will choose in favor of full-fledged relations with Russia."

At the end of his speech, Medvedev returned to the challenge of shaping a "world financial architecture," although he framed this in terms of "new rules." He talked about the need for "the possibility of warning about the emergence of crises and minimizing their effect," and, at a minimum, "developing new risk-evaluation systems, which would take into account the interrelationship of financial institutions and the real economy." Medvedev cited the late Russian emigré economist Wassily Leontieff, who said that a free-enterprise system was like a gigantic computer, but that large computers need to be properly managed.

The President repeated his desire for Russia to host a new "leading world financial center," and said that movement toward this could begin with pushing ahead on the denomination of oil and gas trade in rubles. Russia wants to develop diverse economic ties within EurAsEc and the CIS, as well as with the EU, China, India, and other major Asian countries, while not ignoring Latin America and Africa.

Armenia, Azerbaijan Sign Accord To Settle Conflict

Nov. 3 (EIRNS)—The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met over the weekend outside Moscow, at the invitation of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and the three leaders signed an agreement to accelerate diplomatic efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Presidents Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarksyan of Armenia, and Medvedev all signed the precedent-setting document, pledging to accelerate diplomatic efforts, and to resolve the dispute through diplomacy.

"The Presidents aim to improve the situation in the South Caucasus and confirm the importance of OSCE mediation and the need to support the peace settlement process with legally binding international guarantees," the joint communiqué stated, according to Itar-Tass on Nov. 2.

New York Times: Georgia Invasion of South Ossetia Unprovoked

Nov. 7 (EIRNS)—The New York Times, months after the fact, reported that the Aug. 7 invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia was an unprovoked act, targeting innocent civilians and foreign peacekeepers.

Lyndon LaRouche denounced the Georgian action from day one, as a provocation by a government owned by George Soros and his British Foreign Office controller, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown. But the New York Times, like the overwhelming majority of the American media, portrayed Georgia as the victim of a Russian invasion. Now, the Times reports that Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors, who were in South Ossetia at the moment of the Georgian attacks, have provided detailed eyewitness accounts that make it clear that the Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili was the aggressor.

The Nov. 7 Times story contained details from OSCE briefings by Ryan Grist and Stephen Young, both retired British military officers, who were heading up the OSCE monitoring team, and confirmed that the Georgian invasion and indiscriminate rocket fire on civilian neighborhoods in the South Ossetian capital, all took place before any Russian military reinforcements entered the enclave. The OSCE monitors also disputed the key Georgian government claim, that South Ossetians had been firing rockets into Georgian villages.

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