Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Studied boredom in Moscow

US president Barack Obama [BHO] didn't wow them in Moscow. It is questionable if he thought that he would. Russia wants to deal with the US, though. Although Moscow is allowing Washington rights to fly military aeroplanes bound for Afghanistan through its air space, it sees in the defeat of the Taliban a score that it has to settle for its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and on the other hand, the resurgence of a reinvigorated Taliban is a threat to Russia's vital interests in Central Asia. Furthermore, it is not quite overjoyed that the Americans have gained a toehold in a geography that it sees as its own. Still, let the Yanks bleed and die in that life and death struggle with Mollah Omar & co.
Russia like the US wants an extension of the nuclear ban treaty, which HBO modestly agreed to.
Nevertheless, what is sticking in the maw of the Russians is the US president playing with their heads. The American president picking up on a dropped Bush stitch has not abandoned the idea of stationing US missiles in Poland, near Russia's own borders, and what's more seems intent in seemingly extending NATO membership to the Ukraine and Georgia. So, little wonder, the Russian authorities see Washington's goal is encirclement. A fearful and threatened Russia is a cause of great concern in Europe and Asia in the longer run.
Hence for the moment the Russians will play along with BHO in a restricted sense. BHO should treat Russia with a respect inherent in the fact that Moscow is a nuclear powerhouse with thousands of missiles and warheads, and on a par with Washington's stockpiles.
BHO did lecture the Russian leaders on a country's right to do as it pleases to protect itself, but does he realise that his words cut two ways? BHO's entourage is dotted with a phalanx of Cold Warriors who wouldn't like anything better than to revive the cold war.
Times have changed, however. Little wonder Russia's president Dmitri Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin seem sullen in photo op's with BHO.

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