Saturday, August 30, 2008

Putin blasts Europe for following U.S. foreign policies

MOSCOW, August 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned European countries against following U.S. foreign policy ahead of an EU emergency meeting on Monday on the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia.
Russia officially recognized the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday, saying the move was needed to protect the region following Georgia's military offensive on August 8. Western countries condemned the move as an "irresponsible decision."
"If European countries continue carrying out such policies, we will have to talk to Washington about European matters," Putin said in an interview with Germany's ARD television on Friday.
The Russian premier said that Europe backed the U.S. and supported Kosovo's declaration of independence in February, while a UN resolution on Serbia's territorial integrity was "thrown in the garbage."
Russia, Serbia's long-time ally and a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, refused to recognize Kosovo's autonomy saying that it would cause a "chain reaction."
Putin justified Russia's actions in South Ossetia saying Moscow had defended the lives of its citizens, saying that if forced to choose between life and sausage, "we choose life."
The former Russian president stressed that Russia did not fear Western sanctions: "Such a country will not be in isolation," he said in an excerpts shown on state-run Russian television.

Iran operating 4,000 nuclear centrifuges

TEHRAN, Iran, Aug 29, (Agencies): Iran has increased the number of operating centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant to 4,000, a top official said Friday, pushing ahead with the nuclear program despite threats of new UN sanctions. The number was up from the 3,000 centrifuges that Iran announced in November that it was operating at its plant in the central city of Natanz. Still, it is well below the 6,000 it said last year it would operate by summer 2008, suggesting the program may be behind schedule. Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, who visited Natanz last week, said Friday that Iran was preparing to install even more centrifuges, though he did not offer a timeframe. “Right now, nearly 4,000 centrifuges are operating at Natanz,” Attar told the state news agency IRNA. “Currently, 3,000 other centrifuges are being installed.”
continues here

Friday, August 29, 2008

Russia 'could destroy NATO ships in Black Sea within 20 minutes'

From bad to worse!

MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Black Sea Fleet is capable of destroying NATO's naval strike group currently deployed in the sea within 20 minutes, a former fleet commander said on Friday. (Russian Navy modernized - Image gallery)
Russia's General Staff said on Tuesday there were 10 NATO ships in the Black Sea - three U.S. warships, the Polish frigate General Pulaski, the German frigate FGS Lubeck, and the Spanish guided missile frigate Admiral Juan de Borbon, as well as four Turkish vessels. Eight more warships are expected to join the group.
"Despite the apparent strength, the NATO naval group in the Black Sea is not battle-worthy," Admiral Eduard Baltin said. "If necessary, a single missile salvo from the Moskva missile cruiser and two or three missile boats would be enough to annihilate the entire group."
"Within 20 minutes the waters would be clear," he said, stressing that despite major reductions, the Black Sea Fleet still has a formidable missile arsenal.
However, Baltin said the chances of a military confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Black Sea are negligible.
"We will not strike first, and they do not look like people with suicidal tendencies," he said.
In addition to its flagship, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, Russia's Black Sea Fleet includes at least three destroyers, two guided missile frigates, four guided missile corvettes and six missile boats.
NATO announced its decision to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia after the conclusion of hostilities between Tbilisi and Moscow over breakaway South Ossetia on August 12. Moscow recognized on Tuesday both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgia republic, despite being urged by Western leaders not to do so.
Russia's General Staff later said the alliance's naval deployment in the Black Sea "cannot fail to provoke concern", with unidentified sources in the Russian military saying a surface strike group was being gathered there.
According to Russian military intelligence sources, the NATO warships that have entered the Black Sea are between them carrying over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

SCO summit: the view from Moscow

In Dushanbe, one of the main themes discussed by the SCO members was the situation in the Caucasus. The summit expressed support for Russia in the conflict with Georgia, while noting that it is necessary to avoid a forceful solution of the situation (SCO Summit official website).

Oleg Barabanov, MGIMO Professor, Doctor of Political Sciences: -- "From my point of view, the conclusive reaction (of the summit) was muted, because the present situation is quite severe, and member countries of SCO are not ready to go fighting the Americans and NATO. That's why they have come up with a neutral statement. -- It turns out that while some countries have refrained from open support (of Russia), others have expressed tough criticism (of Russia).
Here you ought to remember Alexander III: "Russia has only two allies: the army and navy".

Mihail Alexandrov, head of the Division of the Caucasus Institute for CIS countries: -- "It was obvious that the reaction of the East would be different from the position of the West. We have not received direct support in terms of the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is because China is very sensitive to the problems of separatism, and we have not done enough to convince China that this is not about separatism, but quite another process of dissolution of the State. SCO will support our peace efforts, our actions to restore peace. And that's something different."

Alexander Gurov, a member of the Duma Committee for Security: -- "SCO has not responded like Europe. SCO members have reacted cautiously. They do not praise us, but support us. If we talk about the situation as a whole, Russia could not have done otherwise. Ossetians and Abkhazians would have been virtually driven from their lands and destroyed." (Source)

Vladimir Zhirinovsky: “Israel will attack Iran in October”

This seems like a joke, but it's not..!

28 Aug 2008 13:17 Moscow - APA.
“Israel’s attack on Iran within two months is inevitable,” said chairman of Russian Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky, APA reports.

He said that the attack would possibly take place in October. “As a result of this attack Israel, with support of the US, will completely destroy Iran’s military power. The war will be followed by a strong flow of refugees from Iran to the north. We can prevent flow of Iranian refugees to our country owing to the new security region we established in the South Caucasus” he said.

Zhirinovsky said over the course of the past 200 years Russia had protected Caucasian people against the attacks of Turkey and Iran. “Russia is the guarantor of peace and stability in the Caucasus. 20 more states will recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 5-7 years. Two more independent states have been included into the world map and this is a reality,” he said.

Reality is that until today only Hamas and Transdniestria have recognized the two republics!!! Na sdarovie!

Final document of SCO does not approve Russian military campaign against Georgia

The final document of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) does not contain explicit approval of the Russian military campaign against Georgia. It states only that the SCO countries "support the active role of Russia in promoting peace" in South Ossetia. However, the declaration reaffirms the commitment and efforts "aimed at preserving the unity of Georgia and its territorial integrity."

"The SCO Member States have expressed deep concern over the recent tensions in South Ossetia and urge the relevant parties to settle the existing problems through peaceful dialogue." SCO members also "welcomed" the ceasefire in the conflict zones, reached under the mediation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. (

UPDATE: S.Ossetia says Georgian drone shot down over capital

I've been too quick even for RIA Novosti! Here is a more detailed update on the downing of the Georgian drone (link to my previous post)!

TSKHINVALI, 12:54-August 28 (RIA Novosti) - A Georgian unmanned reconnaissance plane was shot down early on Thursday over the South Ossetian capital, a local Interior Ministry official said.
"A Georgian drone was flying from south to north over Tskhinvali at 00.10 Moscow time (20.10 GMT). South Ossetian military units opened fire at the UAV and shot it down," said acting Interior Minister Mikhail Mindzayev.
He also said several illegal armed groups were operating near the capital under orders from Georgian authorities to conduct subversive activities and terrorist acts.
"To prevent these activities, South Ossetian security-related forces, including police, are forming special counter-terrorist units," Mindzayev said.
On Wednesday, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of Russia's General Staff, said a Georgian reconnaissance drone made a flight at 3.15 p.m. Moscow time [11.15 GMT] over South Ossetia, spying on places of deployment and movement routes of Russian military detachments, in violation of existing agreements.
Numerous flights by reconnaissance drones over South Ossetia were reported by Russian peacekeepers before Georgia launched its devastating military offensive against the region on August 8.
Russia officially recognized South Ossetia, along with breakaway Abkhazia, as independent countries on Tuesday.

Georgian plane downed by South Ossetia

"Georgian unmanned spy plane shot down earlier in the day over the territory of South Ossetia" says Mikhail Minzaev, Interior Minister of the Ossetian Republic.
Anatoly Nogovitsin, deputy head of the Russian armed forces, added that the drone was monitoring movements of Russian troops in violation of peace agreements.

Russia may establish three military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Click to enlarge

Three Russian military bases can be established in Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Moscow. August 28. INTERFAX.RU - Russia may establish three military bases on the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, military-diplomatic sources in Moscow told Interfax.

"Military experts, together with specialists from other departments, are conducting calculations on the possible deployment of military bases, in particular in the Abkhaz cities of Gudauta and Ochamchira, as well as in the South Ossetian city of Dzhave" - said the source.
He clarified that the bases will probably be established where they were in Soviet times. "In Gudauta, we could establish a military airfield, for example, with aviation and air defense systems, and in the port of Ochamchira - on the Black Sea and in Dzhave - motorized infantry brigade" - said the diplomatic source. The source stressed that the deployment of these military bases could begin only after the conclusion of appropriate agreements between Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

EU considers sanctions on Russia

Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the FSB

European Union leaders are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Georgia, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said, according to BBC.
He gave no further details but added "this will be solved by negotiation".
Moscow`s recognition of independence for Georgia`s breakaway enclaves has been condemned by the West.
But Russia`s president says he has the support of China and four central Asian states for its actions in Georgia, sending "a serious signal" to the West (Link).
Speaking at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said the grouping`s united position would have "international resonance".
"I hope it will serve as a serious signal to those who try to turn black into white and justify this aggression," he said in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.
He was referring to Georgia`s attempt earlier this month to retake the Russian-backed separatist region of South Ossetia by force after a series of clashes.
Russian forces subsequently launched a counter-attack and the conflict ended with the ejection of Georgian troops from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia and an EU-brokered ceasefire.
Call for dialogue
Reacting to Mr Medvedev`s comments, China reiterated its concern over Russia`s decision to recognise the independence of two Georgian breakaway regions.
"We hope the relevant countries properly resolve the issues through dialogue and consultation," said a foreign ministry spokesman.
The SCO was established in 2001 on the foundations of an earlier grouping, in part, to act as a counterweight to Nato influence in the region.
The BBC`s diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, says it is tempting to see Russia turning eastwards as its relations with the West sour.
But, he says, it would be wrong to see this as the emergence of a coherent anti-Western bloc, as its most powerful member - China - could hardly be more integrated into the international economy.
China also sees territorial integrity and the defence of national sovereignty as almost sacrosanct values in its diplomacy abroad, our correspondent says.
Earlier, seven of the world`s leading industrialised nations - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and UK - said Moscow`s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia violated Georgia`s integrity and sovereignty.
The group also said it deplored Russia`s "excessive use of military force in Georgia and its continued occupation of parts of Georgia".
The UK`s Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Western countries should re-examine their relations with Russia and warned Russia not to start a new Cold War.
Speaking during a visit to Ukraine, Mr Miliband said Moscow had not reconciled itself with the new map of the region and that the West should look at ways to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Russia said it was the last country that wanted a new Cold War.
President Medvedev has said he was obliged to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia following the "genocide" started by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in South Ossetia in August.
He also blamed Georgia for failing to negotiate a peaceful settlement. UNIAN

Saakashvili not invited at EU summit

The presidency of the EU, France, has turned down the request of Poland and the Baltic States to invite the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili at the opening, on September 1 in Brussels, of an extraordinary EU summit. "Saakashvili will not be at the summit" - said a member of the EU secretariat. (Itar-Tass)

The Summit of Heads of States and Governments, convened by the EU French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who chairs the EU, at the request of Poland and a number of Eastern European States, will discuss the situation in Georgia and EU policy towards Russia. (KP)

In an interview with the German Bild, the Georgian leader said that he is unwilling to travel outside the country, as he fears that Russia will not allow him to return. Saakashvili suggested that Russia may close the airspace of Georgia and he will not be able to get back to Tbilisi. That is why, Saakashvili explained, the extraordinary EU summit on September 1 will be without his participation. (Echo Moscow)

'Iran's missile shield ready in 2009'

Wed, 27 Aug 2008

An Israeli think tank claims that Iran will install an advanced air defense system the country bought from Russia next year.

The report says the S-300PMU-2 air defense system will be deployed in 2009 and it will be operational by the middle of the next year. The report by the Institute for Contemporary Affairs said the S-300 would complement other Russian air defense systems in Iran, particularly the TOR-M1. “The S-300 system, which has a radius of over 90 miles and effective altitudes of about 90,000 feet, is capable of tracking up to 100 targets simultaneously," the report said. "It is considered one of the best in the world and is amazingly versatile. It is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missile warheads,” it added. The report says the deployment of the defense system in Iran will hamper any US and Israeli plans to launch an attack against the country.

"The deployment of the anti-aircraft shield next spring, if it occurs, effectively limits the window in which Israel or the United States could conduct an effective aerial campaign aimed at destroying, delaying or crippling the Iranian nuclear program,” the World Tribune quoted the report on Wednesday. "Many of the Iranian targets are fortified, and will require bunker busters," the report said. "Operational challenges abound. Israel's EW planes, needed to suppress anti-aircraft batteries, are slow and unarmed, and could become a target for Iranian anti-aircraft missiles or even fighter sorties," Ariel Cohen, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said. Press TV

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Russian Muslims urge the world community to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

The Central Spiritual Directorate of Russian Muslims Federation (TSDUM) appeals to all countries of the world to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"We call upon the world community and Islamic world to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the name of peace and stability in the Caucasus", said mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin.

TSDUM (Tsentralnoe Dukhovnoe Upravlenie Musulman) from the very beginning condemned the "treacherous aggression against South Ossetia by the Georgian leadership which unleashed a full-scale war against the South-Ossetian people", and called on regional Muslim spiritual administration to provide support and assistance to all victims of this humanitarian catastrophe. "No one can remain indifferent to the suffering of these people" concluded the mufti. (Vsesmi)

Georgian Foreign Ministry withdraws its diplomatic corps from Moscow

"Москву покидают грузинские дипломаты"

"MFA has decided to bring to a minimum the number of its diplomats in Russia. To represent our diplomatic office will be Givi Shugarov, acting as temporary envoy" said the Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Nino Kalandadze. (РИА Новости)