Daily Archives: September 30, 2008

October 3, 2008 — Contents


(1) EDITORIAL:  The Horror in Ingushetia

(2) EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Hypocrisy

(3)  The Polish President on Naked Russian Aggression

(4)  Russia to the Rescue?

(5)  Condi on Pooty

(6)  Annals of Russian Weaponization of Energy

EDITORIAL: The Horror in Ingushetia


The Horror in Ingushetia

On the evening of September 10th, one Bekhan Zyazikov was driving through downtown Nazran, the largest city in the Russian Federation region of Ingushetia, a tumultuous area adjoining the boiling cauldron of Chechnya and full of many people who, like the Chechens, would like to break free of Russian rule.  Ironically for Moscow, they see Russia’s endorsement of similar secession action by Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia as precedential fuel powering their desires.

At about 5:30 pm, unknown gunmen opened fire on Zyazikov’s late model Mercedes sedan, killing him instantly.

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EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Hypocrisy


Annals of Russian Hypocrisy

It’s the kind of thing that can only emerge from Russia.

On the same day, the media reported on Russia complaining that the U.S. was “stonewalling” a nuclear arms reduction negotiation and also that Russia had announced plans to help Venezulea develop nuclear technology, just as it has done for Iran (which, thanks to Russia, experts now report is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons — an event which could cause the tinderbox of the Middle East to go up in flames — and which Russia is aggressively shielding from Western sanctions).

We have a separate category in our sidebar devoted to recording instances of breathtaking Russian hypocrisy, and it’s already loaded with material.  But this one is something special, it may just take the cake.

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The Polish President on Naked Russian Aggression

Newsweek interviews the President of Poland:

During the war between Georgia and Russia, no European leader denounced Russia as strongly as Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski. He has also been a fervent backer of U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles on Polish territory. U.S. and Polish officials signed the agreement for the missile shield soon after Russian troops crossed into Georgian territory. While visiting the United Nations last week, he talked with Andrew Nagorski, a former NEWSWEEK senior editor and now director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. Excerpts:

NAGORSKI: What lessons did we learn from the conflict between Russia and Georgia?

KACZYNSKI: First, Russia wanted to carry out an annexation of two provinces. Second, there was an attempt to topple the government. The West was capable of one thing: not allowing this toppling of the government. Third, this has huge strategic importance for Europe. I’ve been pushing for years for building alternative routes for oil and natural gas on a big scale from Azerbaijan—and, maybe in the future, from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan—that would bypass Russia. The attack on Georgia has made this more difficult.

NAGORSKI: You ‘ re convinced the Russians wanted to depose the Georgian government?

KACZYNSKI: Yes. My intervention and that of the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and some engagement of the United States, forcing the engagement of NATO and, the least willingly, the European Union caused the Russians to not go for that. They always act with different options in mind, and that was the optimal one for them. They left the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to occupy part of Georgia. The Russians showed a certain helplessness on the part of the West. That’s terrible because the West is much stronger than they are.

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Russia to the Rescue?

News readers could be forgiven for laboring mightily to understand a recent story about the hijacking of a Ukrainian arms shipment (33 Soviet-era battle tanks) bound for Africa.  The pirates were holding 20 Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan crew members on board.  Upon being seized the ship’s Russian captain Vladimir Kolobkov apparently had a heart attack on the spot and dropped dead.

The ship was taken on Thursday September 25th and the next day there were reports that the Russian navy was charging to the rescue. The next thing you knew, the pirates were demanding $20 million in ransom, and it was already Monday.  Now, the United States was taking the lead, surrounding the pirated ship from all sides. The Russian navy was nowhere to be seen, and the Americans were preventing the ship from offloading any cargo, which might then fall into the hands of crazed Somali rebels.

Very impressive technology the Russians seem to have, some sort of advanced cloaking device that makes their ships disappear entirely whenever they might actually have to fight.  Same thing appears to have happened in the Black Sea when the U.S. navy made an appearance after Russia’s assault on Georgia began.

One gets the impression that the Russians are hiding behind the American skirts, just in case the pirates might actually start shooting or something.

Condi on Pooty

What do you see when you look into HER eyes, Mr. Putin?

What do you see when you look into HER eyes, Mr. Putin?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, writing on the Polish website Gazeta:

For much of the past month, the world’s focus has turned to Russia. We took up the urgent, initial challenge of supporting Georgia after the Russian attack – a challenge that Poland was instrumental in meeting. The main question going forward – which I addressed at length in a speech last Thursday – is, what do the events of the past month mean for Russia’s relationship with the world, especially the United States and Europe?

The circumstances surrounding last month’s conflict are well-known. Mistakes were made on both sides, but the response of Russia’s leaders – invading a sovereign state across an internationally-recognized border, and then seeking to dismember it by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia – was disproportionate. And the responsibility for this behavior lies not with Russia’s neighbors, not with NATO enlargement, and not with the United States, but with Russia’s leaders.

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Annals of Russian Weaponization of Fuel

As if the world needed any more evidence that Vladimir Putin is simply lying whe he claims Russia wants to be a civilized and reliable partner for the supply of energy, the Moscow Times reports:

The Russian government deliberately engineered the recent slowdown in oil production by imposing high taxes on the industry, two eminent U.S. economists contend in a new book.  The claim, by Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes in a book to be published by the London-based Center for European Reform this week, contradicts statements by the government that it is seeking to increase output.  Gaddy, of the Brookings Institution, and Ickes, of Pennsylvania State University, co-authored a chapter for the book, “Pipelines, Politics and Power: The Future of EU-Russia Energy Relations.”

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Special Extra: Now, Preemption

It’s truly amazing how Russia retains its ability to surprise one with unanticipated new levels of barbarism. Even we, cynical as we are on Russia, are not immune.

This morning at 10:30 am Moscow time the Russian government shut down the Russian stock market preemptively for two hours, though the MICEX index was down just 1% in early trading (the RTS hadn’t even opened yet and couldn’t even say when it would be allowed to do so; short-selling had been banned before the MICEX even opened).  In a shocking display, it was the second time in as a many weeks that this barbaric tactic had been invoked, and this time the circumstances on the ground weren’t close to justifying it.  The Kremlin simply panicked with the index flirting with the critical 1,000 point psychological barrier (it had just slipped below 1,010 when the order came to shut down).   It did not trust its own stock market, and it could not preserve its poker face. If the Russian government itself feels that way, how is a mere investor (well, riverboat gambler) supposed to react?

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