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NYTimes - Time for US to wise up about true nature of Russian beast

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  • goldfishbooks
    Time for US to wise up about true nature of Russian beast. Russia s Overtures to Axis of Evil Nations Strain Its Ties With U.S. September 1, 2002 By STEVEN
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2002
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      Time for US to wise up about true nature of Russian beast.

      Russia's Overtures to 'Axis of Evil' Nations Strain Its Ties With U.S.

      September 1, 2002

      MOSCOW, Aug. 31 - A flurry of Russian overtures to Iraq,
      Iran and North Korea - nations the United States calls an
      "axis of evil" - is exposing strains in the newly forged
      relationship between Presidents Bush and Vladimir V. Putin,
      American and Russian officials say.

      In recent weeks, Mr. Putin's government has conspicuously
      pursued a range of economic and diplomatic accords with all
      three countries - from proposals to drill for oil in Iraq
      and build nuclear reactors in Iran to a warm meeting
      between Mr. Putin and North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim
      Jong Il, in Vladivostok on Aug. 23.

      On Monday, the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri Ahmad
      al-Hadithi, is scheduled to arrive in Moscow for two days
      of meetings with his Russian counterpart, Igor S. Ivanov,
      and other senior officials. Russian officials said the
      visit could end with the signing of a 10-year, $40 billion
      plan to expand economic investment between the two

      Although the plan has been in the works for two years,
      Iraqi officials seem eager to close the deal - if only to
      bolster international opposition to the Bush
      administration's efforts to overthrow the Iraqi leader,
      Saddam Hussein.

      The overtures have surprised and angered senior Bush
      administration officials, who seem frustrated that warmer
      relations with Mr. Putin's Russia have not been translated
      into support for the administration's goals, especially
      regarding Iraq and Iran.

      In a rebuke more reminiscent of the cold war than of the
      new partnership Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin have pledged,
      Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld recently warned
      that Russia's relations with nations the United States
      considers enemies threatened to erode its diplomatic and
      economic standing.

      "To the extent that Russia decides that it wants to parade
      its relationship with countries like Iraq and Libya and
      Syria and Cuba and North Korea, it sends a signal out
      across the globe that that is what Russia thinks is a good
      thing to do, to deal with the terrorist states," Mr.
      Rumsfeld said.

      Russian officials have defended the overtures, saying that
      Mr. Putin's government is simply pursuing its own
      diplomatic and economic interests. Russia shares a border
      with North Korea and has longstanding trade ties with it,
      as well as with Iraq and Iran.

      For now, officials from both countries play down the
      possibility of a breach in the new partnership. Despite
      criticisms like Mr. Rumsfeld's, American officials said
      that Mr. Putin remained a staunch ally in the campaign
      against international terrorism. The administration's
      looming showdown over Iraq could severely test that.

      "What's more important is what the Russians' attitude is
      toward regime change and taking military action in Iraq,"
      said Robert J. Einhorn, a former Clinton administration
      nonproliferation official now at the Center for Strategic
      and International Studies in Washington. "Is it going to be
      a problem, or will they stand on the sidelines?"

      Senior politicians and diplomats said in interviews this
      week that Russian objectives in Iraq, Iran and North Korea
      did not necessarily contradict American ones, even though
      they acknowledged that sharp differences remained over many
      issues and tactics.

      In the case of North Korea, for example, Mr. Ivanov helped
      broker the unusual meeting in Brunei on July 31 between
      Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the North Korean
      foreign minister, Paek Nam Sun, according to a senior
      Russian aide. That was the highest level American contact
      with North Korea since President Bush took office 20 months

      After Mr. Putin's meeting with Mr. Kim, the two Koreas also
      resumed negotiations on a rail link that would connect the
      peninsula with Russia's Trans-Siberian Railroad, opening a
      trade route across the continent to European markets that
      could bring millions of dollars in duties and transit fees
      for Russia's economy.

      Indeed Russia's diplomacy with the North Koreans is far
      from unique. As with the Bush administration's policies
      toward Iraq and Iran, it is the American policy toward
      North Korea that seems isolated.

      On Friday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan
      announced that he would travel to North Korea for the first
      time, raising the prospect of a thaw in relations, despite
      the Bush administration's efforts to isolate North Korea,
      along with Iraq and Iran.

      "North Korea is not like Iraq and Iran," said Georgi D.
      Toloraya, deputy director general of the Russian Foreign
      Ministry's Asian department. "First, they want to talk, and
      second, they want to change. That's why we shouldn't lose
      the chance."

      Mikhail V. Margelov, chairman of the international affairs
      committee in Russia's upper house of Parliament, said he
      believed that Iran too, like North Korea, could be
      "modernized." For that reason, he said, it would be better
      to cultivate rather than sever relations.
      "If we can do it peacefully," he said, "why not?"

      Harsh rebukes like Mr. Rumsfeld's also belie the fact that Mr.
      Putin's government appears to have taken into account
      American objections to Russia's recent rounds of diplomacy.

      In late July, the Russian government disclosed a draft of a
      10-year program to expand economic, industrial and
      scientific cooperation with Iran. The agreement, still not
      approved by either side, included proposals to build as
      many as five more nuclear-power reactors like one already
      under construction at Bushehr, a city on the Persian Gulf.

      Russia's project at Bushehr - worth $800 million -
      represents the most serious rift between the United States
      and Russia. President Bush and other officials have
      repeatedly objected to the project at Bushehr, warning that
      the Russian assistance could help Iran develop nuclear

      A senior administration official said last month that
      Russian scientists and expertise have already been put to
      use in a secret weapons program - something Iran denies

      A week after the proposals to build more reactors were
      disclosed, however, Russia appeared to back away from them.
      After pointed discussions here in Moscow with Energy
      Secretary Spencer Abraham, the minister of Russia's nuclear
      energy agency, Aleksandr Y. Rumyantsev, suggested for the
      first time that Russia was prepared to take into account
      "political factors" before deepening its assistance to

      Likewise, Russian officials have played down the disclosure
      of a similar program of economic cooperation with Iraq -
      estimated at $40 billion over 10 years - as simply a wish
      list for Russian companies that depended on the lifting of
      United Nations sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait
      in 1990.

      As President Bush's antiterrorism efforts jell into open
      threats to overthrow Mr. Hussein, next week's meetings
      between the Iraqi and Russian foreign ministers will be a
      measure of Russia's desire to distance itself from Mr. Bush
      in the weeks leading up to any showdown with Iraq.

      Russian officials at the United Nations and elsewhere have
      been steadfast in insisting that Mr. Hussein's government
      allow international weapons inspectors return to Iraq and
      complete their search for nuclear, chemical and biological
      weapons before sanctions can be lifted.

      Russia's historical, political and economic ties with Iraq
      make for a tangled relationship that could pose genuine
      problems for any American military campaign against
      Baghdad. Iraq's debt to the old Soviet Union totals at
      least $8 billion, and Baghdad offered Russian oil companies
      billions more in concessions during the 1990's as it sought
      to build support in the United Nations.

      Russia is also Iraq's largest supplier in the United
      Nations' oil-for-food program, sending at least $2.5
      billion a year in nonmilitary goods in exchange for cash
      raised by oil sales.

      Even so, Russia appears to be exploring the possibility of
      a post-Hussein Iraq. Last week, a Russian envoy met with
      representatives of the Iraqi opposition in Washington, and
      while officials here described the meeting as a routine
      diplomatic contact that did not signal a change in Russia's
      opposition to a war against Iraq, it nonetheless suggested
      Russia hoped to keep its options open.

      "I see no love by President Putin or Minister Ivanov in
      keeping weapons of mass of destruction in Iraq," Senator
      Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, said, referring to
      the defense minister, Sergei B. Ivanov. "They have a real
      eagerness to get that under control, same as we do."

      Russia's diplomatic overtures also appear to reflect a
      struggle over the direction the country will take. As Mr.
      Putin tries to turn it to the West, he has been buffeted by
      nationalistic forces eager to differ with the United
      States, industrial leaders eager to find markets and
      ministries that sometimes work at odds with one another.

      Stephen Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on
      Foreign Relations in New York, said the Bush
      administration's greatest fear is the possibility that
      Russia could use its influence to force Iraq's acquiescence
      to a new inspection regime. That could set up a clash with
      the United States if the Bush administration decides to
      proceed with military operations anyway.

      "That," he said, "would be the worst-case scenario."


      This is a scenario well worth a Walt Disney Studios attention:

      Putin - the Dubaya's bad lap dog Pooty-Poo, trying to reason with his pal - a big mad dog Saddy, to let the inspectors in, to see what? That they are only about to build a couple of perfectly safe nuclear plants, as the mad guy accepted their tender, - the russky are the internationally renown, the best contractors one can find for such project, even he heard abour Chernobyl?

      In the background, Poo doggy sends his packs of semi starved sick mongrels to bomb and rob a small country in the mountains. As it happens, the countryfolk there shares the religious beliefs with the Mad Saddy; Allah, - being Great, Patient and Merciful, - is not in a habit of choosing His faithful at will.

      Is Saddy at peace with his Creator? If yes, what is his attitude to Poo? Why does Poo prefer to play in the sand with Saddy and kill the moderate, more western orientated folk in his own backyard in the mountains, under Dubaya's long nose? What exactly is it that Poo is trying to achieve here by chasing two hares and a half? And how long will the patiece of a 'patient man', as Dubaya described himself, last?

      Anya Lauchlan

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