Friday, April 27, 2007

Russia suspends key force-limitation treaty; US press too focused on John Edwards' hair to notice

Okay, that title is a big bit of hyperbole. But the group we generously call our American "press corps" doesn't seem to think this is much of a big deal. Hardly worth noticing, in fact: 'Grave concern' as Putin freezes defence pact The Australian/AFP 27.04.07; Putins gefährliches Vermächtnis von Uwe Klussmann Der Spiegel Online 27.04.07. The Australian's report says:

In heated NATO talks in Oslo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Russia was to halt its application of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty and could even pull out if the allies did not endorse it.

"It means that we will halt the compliance of our obligations under the treaty," he told reporters, after launching what was described by a US official as a 20-minute "diatribe" against NATO.

His remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a state of the nation address, called for the freeze in response to the US missile shield plans.
It sounds like a pretty doggone big deal to me!

Meanwhile, Condi-Condi says that the Cheney-Bush administration is losing patience with the "Soviets". What the [Cheney]? And Condi's academic specialty is Russia. See
Putin Plays Hard Ball as Rice Reassures 'Soviets' Der Spiegel International Online 04/26/07.

The issue at dispute is the plan of the Cheney-Bush administration to deploy its "missile shield" in Europe, which the Russians (the Soviet Union dissolved a while ago, Condi) interpret as a hostile military action. Why, you may ask, are the Russians worried about a boondoggle, useless corporate-welfare project like the Star Wars "missile shield"? US weapons expert Philip Coyle explains in 'I'm Against Deploying Systems that Don't Work' Der Spiegel International Online 04/26/07. On the not working part:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Coyle, who would a US missile defense system in Poland protect? Europe or the East Coast of the United States?

Coyle: For all we know, neither one. The missile defense systems already deployed in California and Alaska have not demonstrated the capability to destroy enemy missiles under realistic conditions. And the equipment to be deployed in Poland is no different.
On why the Russians officially see it as a threat:

SPIEGEL: Russia is sharply critical of the missile defense plans and feels threatened. Justifiably?

Coyle: If Russia were installing missile defense systems in Canada or Cuba, we would react pretty much the same way. We are surrounding them and getting closer to their territorial boundaries.

SPIEGEL: The current administration of George W. Bush claims that missile defense serves as a deterrent. Long-term, the argument goes, such a system would lead to states abandoning the development of such weapons.

Coyle: All this will not lead to a safer world. Countries will simply build up so many missiles that they could overwhelm the most futuristic missile defense system. So far, the Chinese do not believe that our technology works. Who knows what they would do if that changes.
Other articles on Russia's suspension of compliance with the CFE treaty:

Putin Threatens to Withdraw From Armed Forces Treaty by Mark Sweetman and Hannah Gardner 04/26/07

Putin retaliates for American antimissile plan by David Holley Los Angeles Times 04/27/07

US and Nato dissect Putin treaty threat by Neil Buckley and Daniel Dombey Financial Times 04/27/07:

US and Nato officials were yesterday scrambling to understand Vladimir Putin's surprise threat to pull Russia out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a cornerstone of security on the continent.

The accord is a guarantee against the remilitarisation of Europe, the risk of which has now all but vanished.

But a moratorium could halt Russia's co-operation with the CFE's transparency and inspection regime, which has played an important role in confidence-building by demonstrating compliance with arms limits. Moscow has said it is unfair that the treaty restricts movement of military equipment within its own borders.
Russian forces closer to Norway? Norway Post 28.04.07

The Washington Post found room for the story on page 16:
Russia to Suspend Compliance With Key European Pact by Peter Finn 04/27/07.

Russia's treaty threat irks Nato 04/26/07


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