Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Good Neighbor Policy Of Vladimir Paranoid

Russia Could 'Point Warheads' at Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Tuesday that Russia could aim missiles at Ukraine if leaders in Kiev decide to join NATO and host part of the alliance's controversial anti-missile shield.

He made the warning at a news conference in Moscow after a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko that settled a long dispute over the price of natural gas.

NATO membership has been a hot issue within Ukraine recently, and Putin waded into the debate with ambiguous language, saying the decision was Ukraine's business but might raise a "question for Russia of the need for retaliatory actions."

He went on: "It's frightening not just to talk about, but even to think about, that in response to such deployment, the possibility of such deployments -- and one can't theoretically exclude these deployments -- that Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory."

The statement was the clearest warning so far that Russia would resist the march of NATO membership to the Black Sea.

Yushchenko countered by saying that Ukraine has the right to determine its own foreign and defense policies, adding that the Ukrainian constitution prohibits the deployment of foreign bases on its territory.

"You understand well that everything that Ukriane does in this direction is not in any way directed at any third country, including Russia," he said.

Power Games Old and New

Relations between Russia and its former Soviet satellites have been difficult since the end of the Cold War, and in recent years Russia's state-run energy monopolies, like Gazprom, have emphasized their power over its impoverished neighbors (more...) by ending a long era of cheap, subsidized oil and natural gas.

Two years ago Gazprom turned off gas supplies to Ukraine in the middle of a hard winter to insist on a steep price increase. European critics noted that the move looked political (more...), because it followed the pro-Western Orange Revolution that swept Yushchenko to power and steered Ukrainian politics away from Moscow.
It's not nice to dis kameraden Putie.
Kremlin leaders announced separately on Tuesday that Putin would accept an invitation to attend a NATO summit in Romania this April. By then he'll be out of office as president, but the missile shield idea -- a US project extended to allies in Europe under NATO auspices -- has made him prickly about western influence in Russia's former backyard. He's said the presence of missile-defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic would be a threat to Russian security.
Vladimir Paranoid is more of a threat to Russia's security than any missile-defense sites.
A Kiev-based political analyst, Oleksiy Haran, said Putin's posture was anachronistic. "This (warhead) statement was made in the spirit of the Cold War," he told the Associated Press, adding that Putin probably wanted to stoke anti-NATO sentiment within Ukraine and possibly within Russia, where voters will elect a new president on March 2.
Stoke Russian anti-NATO sentiment prior to a free and democratic election; the same election with the guaranteed outcome of Dmitry Medvedev becoming the next president?

Classic paranoia, baby.

Via Spiegel International

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