|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Obama and Medvedev To Meet in April
Jan. 29 (EIRNS)Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed Jan. 27 that President Dmitri Medvedev will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama around April 2, when both will be in London for the G20 financial crisis meeting. In a Jan. 26 phone conversation, the Kremlin announced, the two heads of state emphasized their desire to renew the potential of Russian-American relations to meet common challenges, including the global financial crisis, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism. They also touched on the acute regional problems of Southwest Asia and Afghanistan. Until the April meeting, Lavrov told the press, "I'm hoping to have contacts with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."
In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Jan. 26, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was "cautiously optimistic" that relations with the U.S.A. will improve under the Obama Administration. He was critical of the policies of former President George W. Bush in Ukraine, saying that "the activities of the previous U.S. administration and the European Union, which supported it," had fomented strife in and around Ukraine. Now, Putin said, there are "certain signals" that Obama is reassessing policies in relation to Russia, including the ABM systems for central Europe. "In Mr. Obama's inner circle, they're saying there is no need to rush with it and it needs to be further analyzed, and we welcome such statements," Putin told Bloomberg.
A related report came Jan. 28 from the Russian news agency Interfax, quoting an unnamed Russian general staff officer that, if the Obama Administration does not proceed with the ABM systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia's military does not need to push ahead with the threatened retaliatory deployment of Iskander short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad Region (between Poland and Lithuania).
Putin also cited "positive signals" regarding NATO: "They are saying that it is possible to provide security for Ukraine and Georgia in various ways, and it is not essential to accept them into NATO now. We welcome that and are ready to take part in any discussion on working out the best options to ensure international security." In Brussels, it was announced Jan. 26, after talks between Russian Ambassador Dmitri Rogozin and NATO ambassadors, that Russia and NATO will have their first official contact, since the South Ossetia conflict last August, at the upcoming Munich security conference.
Anti-Drug Chief: Moscow Wants To Work With U.S.A. in Afghanistan
Jan. 30 (EIRNS)Victor Ivanov, head of the Russian Federal Narcotics Control Service, said in an interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta today that Russia wants to work with the new U.S. Administration in Afghanistan to fight drug trafficking. According to an RIA Novosti story, released yesterday to highlight the interview, that was Ivanov's comment on the appointment of a high-ranking U.S. figure, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke, as U.S. special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Ivanov is the Russian official who, shortly after the Nov. 26, 2008 terror attack on Mumbai, India, cited intelligence received on its having been financed by the drug-running networks of Dawood Ibrahim.
Noting the spread of drug crops and trafficking from southern Afghanistan to the whole area along the border with the Central Asian countries, Ivanov said. "To reduce this danger, we are vitally interested in working with the new American administration." Novosti also cited U.S. State Department representative Robert Wood's statement that the Obama Administration considers working with Russia a key component of its Afghanistan strategy.
Ivanov called for convening a conference under UN auspices, on Peace and Prosperity in Afghanistan, as a "first step." "It would be appropriate to hold such a conference in Afghanistan itself, e.g., in Kabul," said Ivanov. All tribes, areas, and political forces "prepared for a constructive dialogue" should be invited, he said, proposing a special role for Russia, as a country "whose forces have not participated in this seven-years long war." Ivanov said that creation of a "single, independent, and strong nation of Afghanistan" would be the pathway to tackling the heroin business.
Russian Publications: LaRouche Forecast This Crisis
Jan. 26 (EIRNS)An article by Vladimir Pyatnitsky, headlined "The End of the Dollar Empire," appearing in the Russian online publication Islamnews.ru, is representative of current comments in Russian online news sites, forums, and blogs about LaRouche's analysis of, and his recommendations for the economic crisis. Pyatnitsky's article makes the additional point that the Russian leadership should have known what was coming, because LaRouche presented his warnings directly in Russia, including at the Russian Parliament.
The article begins: "The current global financial and economic crisis was foreseen and predicted long ago by experts in various countries. In particular, the prominent American encyclopedic thinker Lyndon LaRouche has talked about its inevitability for a number of years. He visited our country several times and spoke, it should be noted, at the State Duma. To the point, he is the one who talked about the irreversible collapse of the reigning liberal financial and economic system, but Russian officials just waved off his warnings."
Pyatnitsky goes on to say that some Russian economists also foresaw the crisis, citing a 2003 book which itself reported on LaRouche's analysis at length.
In the context of the widespread discussion of the inadequacy of the Russian leadership's response to the crisis, maverick journalist Maxim Kalashnikov pointed out that the Kremlin could have learned something from LaRouche, a long time ago. Writing Jan. 30 in the Forum.msk.ru online newspaper, Kalashnikov blasted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's speech to the Davos World Economic Forum as vacuous and disingenuous. He quoted Putin's call to reform international audit standards and change the rating agencies' system, "returning to the concept of fundamental asset value," such that "the future economy be an economy of real values."
"Bravo, Putin!" wrote Kalashnikov, "You've made it to the principles of Lyndon LaRouche's Physical Economy; you've made it to what he said 30 years ago."
Kalashnikov ridiculed "sycophants and anal-ists" who hailed Putin's speech on the financial crisis as equivalent to his famous February 2007 "Russia is back" speech at the Munich security conference. Citing Putin's remark that the "perfect storm" of the financial crisis was hanging in the air, "but nobody wanted to see the rising wave," Kalashnikov asked, "And why the fig didn't you want to notice it during your eight years as President?"
Kalashnikov is published in a variety of Russian outlets, being closely associated with the nationalist weekly Zavtra.